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Eo Us Wife 



Of all the questions which have interested and divided 
the people of the United States, none since the foundation 
of the Federal Union has been so important, so far-reaching, 
and so long contested as slavery. During the first half of 
the nineteenth century the other great national questions 
were nearly all economic — taxation, currency, banks, trans- 
portation, lands, — and they had a strong material basis, a 
flavor of self-interest ; but though slavery had also an 
economic side, the reasons for the onslaught upon it were 
chiefly moral. The first objection brought by the slave- 
power against the anti-slavery propaganda was the cry 
of the sacredness of vested and property rights against 
attack by sentimentalists ; but what dignified the whole 
contest was the very fact that the sentiment for human 
rights was at the bottom of it, and that the abolitionists felt 
a moral responsibility even though property owners suffered. 
The slavery question, which in origin was sectional, became 
national as the moral issues grew clearer ; and finally 
loomed up as the dominant question through the determina- 
tion of both sides to use the power and prestige of the 
national government. From the moral agitation came also 
the personal element in the struggle, the development of 
strong characters, like Calhoun, Toombs, Stephens and 
Jefferson Davis on one side ; like Lundy, Lovejoy, Garrison, 
Giddings, Sumner, Chase, John Brown and Lincoln on the 

Among the many weak spots in the system of slavery none 
gave such opportunities to Northern abolitionists as the loco- 


1 motive powers of the slaves ; a " thing " which could hear its 
owner talking about freedom, a "thing" which could steer 
itself Northward and avoid the "patterollers," was a thing of 
impaired value as a machine, however intelligent as a human 
' being. From earliest colonial times fugitive slaves helped to 
make slavery inconvenient and expensive. So long as slavery 
was general, every slaveholder in every colony was a member 
of an automatic association for stopping and returning fugi- 
tives ; but, from the Revolution on, the fugitives performed 
the important function of keeping continually before the 
people of the states in which slavery had ceased, the fact 
that it continued in other parts of the Union. Nevertheless, 
though between 1777 and 1804 all the states north of Mary- 
land threw off slavery, the free states covenanted in the 
Federal Constitution of 1787 to interpose no obstacle to the 
recapture of fugitives who might come across their borders ; 
and thus continued to be partners in the system of slavery. 
From the first there was reluctance and positive opposition 
to this obligation ; and every successful capture was an 
object lesson to communities out of hearing of the whip- 
ping-post and out of sight of the auction-block. 

In aiding fugitive slaves the abolitionist was making the 
most effective protest against the continuance of slavery; 
but he was also doing something more tangible ; he was 
helping the oppressed, he was eluding the oppressor ; and at 
the same time he was enjoying the most romantic and excit- 
ing amusement open to men who had high moral standards. 
He was taking risks, defying the laws, and making himself 
liable to punishment, and yet could glow with the healthful 
pleasure of duty done. 

To this element of the personal and romantic side of the 
slavery contest Professor Siebert has devoted himself in this 
, book. The Underground Raiboad was simply a form of 
i combined defiance of national laws, on the ground that those 
laws were unjust and oppressive. It was the unconstitu- 
tional but logical refusal of several thousand people to 


acknowledge that they owed any regard to slavery or were 
bound to look on fleeing bondmen as the property of the 
slaveholders, no matter how the laws read. It was also 
a practical means of bringing anti-slavery principles to the 
attention of the lukewarm or pro-slavery people in free 
states; and of convincing the South that the abolitionist 
movement was sincere and effective. Above all, the Under- 
ground Railroad was the opportunity for the bold and 
adventurous ; it had the excitement of piracy, the secrecy 
of burglary, the daring of insurrection ; to the pleasure of 
relieving the poor negro's sufferings it added the triumph 
of snapping' one's fingers at the slave-catcher ; it developed 
coolness, indifference to danger, and quickness of resource. 

The first task of the historian of the Underground Railroad 
is to gather his material, and the characteristic of this book 
is to consider the whole question on a basis of established 
facts. The effort is timely; for there are still living, or were 
living when the work began, many hundreds of persons who 
knew the intimate history of parts of the former secret system 
of transportation ; the book is most timely, for these invalu- 
able details are now fast disappearing with the death of the 
actors in the drama. Professor Siebert has rescued and put 
on record events which in a few years will have ceased to be 
in the memory of living men. He has done for the history 
of slavery what the students of ballad and folk-lore have 
done for literature ; he has collected perishing materials. 

Reminiscence is of course, standing alone, an insufficient 
basis for historical generalization. On that point Professor 
Siebert has been carefid to explain his principle : he does not 
attempt to generalize from single memories not otherwise 
substantiated, but to use reminiscences which confirm each 
other, to search out telling illustrations, and to discover 
what the tendencies were from numerous contrasted testi- 
monies. Actual contemporary records are scanty; a few are 
here preserved, such as David Putnam's memorandum, and 
Campbell's letter ; and the crispness which they give to the 


narrative makes us wisli for more. Tlie few available biog- 
raphies, autobiographies, and contemporary memoirs have 
been diligently sought out and used; and no variety of 
sources has been ignored which seemed likely to throw light 
on the subject. The ground has been carefully traversed ; 
and it is not likely that much will ever be added to the body 
of information collected by Professor Siebert. His list of 
sources, described in the introductory chapter and enumer- 
ated in the Appendices, is really a carefully winnowed bibliog- 
raphy of the contemporary materials on slavery. 

The book is practically divided into four parts : the Rail- 
road itself (Chapters ii, v); the railroad hands (Chapters 
iii, iv, vi); the freight (Chapters vii, viii); and political 
relations and effects (Chapters ix, x, xi). Perhaps one of 
the most interesting contributions to our knowledge of the 
subject is the account of the beginnings of the system of 
secret and systematic aid to fugitives. The evidence goes 
to show that there was organization in Pennsylvania before 
1800 ; and in Ohio soon after 1815. The book thus becomes 
a much-needed guide to information about the obscure 
anti-slavery movement which preceded William Lloyd Gar- 
rison, and to some degree prepared the way for him ; and it 
will prove a source for the historian of the influence of the 
West in national development. As yet we know too little 
of the anti-slavery movement which so profoundly stirred 
the Western states, including Kentucky and Missouri, and 
which came closely into contact with the actual conditions of 
slavery. As Professor Siebert points out, most of the early 
abolitionists in the West were former slaveholders or sons 
of slaveholders. 

Professor Siebert has applied to the whole subject a graphic 
form of illustration which is at the same time a test of his 
conclusions. How can the scattered reminiscences and 
records of escapes in widely separated states be shown to 
refer to the results of one organized method ? Plainly by 
applying them to the actual face of the country, so as to see 


whether the alleged centres of activity have a geographical 
connection. The painstaking map of the lines of the Under- 
ground Railroad " system " is an historical contribution of a 
novel kind ; and it is impossible to gainsay its evidence, 
which is expounded in detail in one of the chapters of the 
book. The result is a gratifying proof of the usefulness of 
scientific methods in historical investigation ; one who lived 
in an anti-slavery community before the Civil War is fasci- 
nated by tracing the hitherto unknown stretches north and 
south from the centre which he knew. The map bears testi- 
mony not only to the wide-spread practice of aiding fugitives, 
but to the devotion of the conductors on the Underground 
Railroad. How useful a section of Mr. Siebert's map would 
have beeu to the slave-catcher in the 50's, when so many 
strange negroes were appearing and disappearing in the free 
states ! The facts presented in the brief compass of the map 
would have been of immense value also to the leaders of the 
Southern Confederacy in 1861, as a confirmation of their 
argument that the North would not perform its constitutional 
duty of returning the fugitives ; yet there is no record in this 
book of the betraying of the secrets of the U. G. R. R. by 
any person in the service. The moral bond of opposition to 
the whole slave power kept men at work forwarding fugi- 
tives by a road of which they themselves knew but a small 
portion. The political philosophers who think that the 
Civil War might have been averted by timely concessions 
would do well to study this picture of the wide distribution 
of persons who saw no peace in slavery. 

Amid all the varieties of anti-slavery men, from the 
Garrisonian abolitionist to faint-hearted slaveholders like 
James G. Birney, it is interesting to see how many had a 
share in the Underground Railroad ; and how many earned 
a reputation as heroes. Professor Siebert has gathered the 
names of about 3,200 persons known to have been engaged 
in this work — a roll of honor for many American families. 
Everybody knew that the fugitives were aided by Fred 


Douglass, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Gerrit Smith, 
Joshua Giddings, John Brown, Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett 
and Theodore Parker ; but this book gives us some account 
of the interest of men like Thaddeus Stevens, not commonly 
counted among the sons of the prophets; and performs a 
special service to the student of history and the lover of 
heroic deeds, by the brief account of the services of obscure 
persons who deserve a place in the hearts of their country- 
men. Men like Rev. George Bourne, Rev. James Duncan 
and Rev. John Rankin, years before Garrison's propaganda, 
had begun to speak and publish against slavery, and to 
prepare men's minds for a righteous disregard of Fugitive 
Slave Acts. Joseph Sider, with his carefully subdivided 
peddler's wagon, deserves a place alongside the better 
known Henry Box Brown. The thirty-five thousand stripes 
of Calvin Fairbank, seventeen years a convict in the 
Kentucky penitentiary, range him with Love joy as an 
anti-slavery martyr. Rev. Charles Torrey had in the work 
of rousing slaves to escape, the same devotion to a fatal duty 
as that which animated John Brown. And no one who has 
ever heard Harriet Tubman describe her part as " Moses " of 
the fugitives can ever forget that African prophetess, whose 
intense vigor is relieved by a shrewd and kindly humanity. 
The quiet recital of the facts has all the charm of 
romance to the passengers on the Underground Railroad : 
whether travelling by night in a procession of covered 
wagons, or boldly by day in disguises; whether boxed up 
as so much freight, or riding on passes unhesitatingly given 
by abolitionist directors of railroads ; the fugitives in these 
pages rejoice in their prospect of liberty. The road sign 
near Oberlin, of a tiger chasing a negro, was a white man's 
joke; but it was a negro who said, apropos of his master's 
discouraging account of Canada: "They put some extract 
onto it to keep us from comin' "; and neither Whittier in 
his poems, nor Harriet Beecher Stowe in her novels, 
imagined a more picturesque incident than the crossing of 


the Detroit River by Fairfield's "gang" of twenty-eight 
rescued souls singing, " I'm on my way to Canada, where 
colored men are free," to the joyful accompaniment of their 

To the settlements of fugitives in Canada Professor 
Siebert has given more labor than appears in his book; 
for his own visits supplement the accounts of earlier 
investigators ; and we have here the first complete account 
of the reception of the negroes in Canada and their progress 
in civilization. 

Upon the general question of the political effects of the 
Underground Railroad, the book adds much to our informa- 
tion, by its discussion of the probable numbers of fugitives, 
and of the alarm caused in the slave states by their depart- 
ure. The census figures of 1850 and 1860 are shown to be 
wilfully false ; and the escape of thousands of persons seems 
established beyond cavil. Into the constitutional question 
of the right to take fugitives, the book goes with less 
minuteness, since it is intended to be a contribution to 
knowledge, and not an addition to the abundant literature 
on the legal side of slavery. 

It has been the effort of Professor Siebert to furnish the 
means for settling the following questions : the origin of the 
system of aid to the fugitives, popularly called the Under- 
ground Railroad ; the degree of formal organization ; methods 
of procedure ; geographical extent and relations ; the leaders 
and heroes of the movement; the behavior of the fugitives 
on their way ; the effectiveness of the settlement in Canada ; 
the numbers of fugitives; and the attitude of courts and 
communities. On all these questions he furnishes new light ; 
and he appears to prove his concluding statement that " the 
Underground Railroad was one of the greatest forces which 
brought on the Civil War and thus destroyed slavery." 


Sources or the Histoet of the Underground Railroad 


The Underground Road as a subject for research .... 1 

Obscurity of the subject 2 

Books dealing with the subject 2 

Magazine articles on the Underground Railroad .... 5 

Newspaper articles on the subject 6 

Scarcity of contemporaneous documents 7 

Reminiscences the chief source 11 

The value of reminiscences illustrated 12 

Origin and Growth of the Underground Road 

Conditions under which the Underground Road originated 
The disappearance of slavery from the Northern states . 
Early provisions for the return of fugitive slaves 
The fugitive slave clause in the Ordinance of 1787 . 
The fugitive slave clause in the United States Constitution 

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 

Desire for freedom among the slaves 

Knowledge of Canada among the slaves .... 
Some local factors in the origin of the underground movement 
The development of the movement in eastern Pennsylvania, in New 

Jersey, and in New York 

The development of the movement in the New England states 

The development of the movement in the West 

The naming of the Road 






The Methods of the Underground Railroad 

Penalties for aiding fugitive slaves . 

Social contempt suffered by abolitionists 

Espionage practised upon abolitionists 

Rewards for the capture of fugitives and the kidnapping of aboli 

Devices to secure secrecy . 
Service at night . 
Methods of communication 
Methods of conveyance 
Zigzag and variable routes 
Places of concealment 
•Disguises .... 
Informality of management 
Colored and white agents . 
'■-City vigilance committees . 
Supplies for fugitives 
Transportation of fugitives by rail 
Transportation of fugitives by water 
Rescue of fugitives under arrest 





Underground Agents, Station-Keepers, or Conductors 

-Underground agents, station-keepers, or conductors 

Their hospitality 
**' Their principles . 

Their nationality 

Their church connections 

Their party affinities . 

Their local standing . 

Prosecutions of underground operators 

Defensive League of Freedom proposed 
-Persons of prominence among underground helpers 










Study of the Map of the Underground Eailroad 

^Geographical extent of underground lines 
>-Eocation and distribution of stations 

vSouthern routes 

-I/ines of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York 
^Routes of the New England states 
i/Lines within the old Northwest Territory 

Noteworthy features of the general map 

Complex routes 

v<Broken lines and isolated place names 
. River routes 
v'Soutes by rail 
'--'Routes by sea 
'■ Terminal stations 
»--^ines of lake travel 
■'' Canadian ports . 



















Abduction of Slaves from the South 

Aversion among underground helpers to abduction of slaves . . 150 
Abductions by negroes living along the northern border of the slave 

states 151 

Abductions by Canadian refugees 152 

Abductions by white persons in the South 153 

Abductions by white persons of the North 154 

v^he Missouri raid of John Brown 162 

KTohn Brown's great plan 166 

Abductions attempted in response to appeals 168 

Devotees of abduction 178 


Life of the Colored Refugees in Canada 

Slavery question in Canada ........ 190 

Flight of slaves to Canada 192 

Refugees representative of the slave class 195 



Misinformation about Canada among slaves 197 - 

Hardships borne by Canadian refugees 198 

Efforts toward immediate relief for fugitives 199 

Attitude of the Canadian government 201 

Conditions favorable to their settlement in Canada .... 203 - 

Sparseness of population 203 

Uncleared lands ........••• 204 

Encouragement of agricultural colonies among refugees . . . 205 

Dawn Settlement . 205 

Elgin Settlement 207 

Refugees' Home Settlement 209 

Alleged disadvantages of the colonies 211 

Their advantages 212 

Refugee settlers in Canadian towns 217 

Census of Canadian refugees ........ 220 

Occupations of Canadian refugees 228 

Progress made by Canadian refugees 224 

Domestic life of the refugees 227 

School privileges . . 228 

Organizations for self-improvement 230 

Churches 231 

Rescue of friends from slavery 231- 

Ownership of property 232 

Rights of citizenship 233 

Character as citizens 233 

Fugitive Settlers in the Northern States 

Number of fugitive settlers in the North . . . . 

The Northern states an unsafe refuge for runaway slaves 

Reclamation of fugitives in the free states 

Protection of fugitives in the free states . 

Object of the personal liberty laws .... 

Effect of the law of 1850 on fugitive settlers 

Underground operators among fugitives of the free states 



Prosecutions of Underground Railroad Men 



**?!nactinent of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 254 

Grounds on which the constitutionality of the measure was ques- 
tioned . . * 254 

M)enial of trial by jury to the fugitive slave 255 

Summary mode of arrest 257 

The question of concurrent jurisdiction between the federal and 

state governments in fugitive slave cases 259 

The law of 1793 versus the Ordinance of 1787 261 

Power of Congress to legislate concerning the extradition of fugitive 

slaves denied . 263 

State officers relieved of the execution of the law by the Prigg de- 
cision, 1842 264 

>^mendment of the law of 1793 by the law of 1850 .... 265 

Constitutionality of the law of 1850 questioned .... 267 

■^irst case under the law of 1850 268 

Authority of a United States commissioner 269 

Penalties imposed for aiding and abetting the escape of fugitives . 273 - 

Trial on the charge of treason in the Christiana case, 1854 . . 279 

Counsel for fugitive slaves 281 

Last case under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 .... 285 

Attempted revision of the law 285 

Destructive attacks upon the measure in Congress .... 286 

^Lincoln's Proclamation of Emancipation 287 

vRepeal of the Fugitive Slave Acts 288 


The Underground Railroad in Politics 

*^aluation of the Underground Railroad in its political aspect . 290 

The question of the extradition of fugitive slaves in colonial times . 290 

Importance of the question in the constitutional conventions . . 293 

Failure of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 294 

Agitation for a more efficient measure 295 

-Diplomatic negotiations for the extradition of colored refugees from 

Canada, 1826-1828 299 

The fugitive slave a missionary in the cause of freedom . . . 300 




Slave-hunting in the free states 

Preparation for the abolition movement of 1830 .... 303 

^•The Underground Railroad and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 . 308 ~ 

The law in Congress "510 

^he enforcement of the law of 1850 316 

Vflie Underground Road and Uncle Tom's Cabin .... 321 — 

^■^litical importance of the novel 323 

W,Sumner on the influence of escaped slaves in the North . . . 324 ■^ 

The spirit of nullification in the North 327 

The Glover rescue, Wisconsin, 1854 327 

The rendition of Burns, Boston, 1854 331 

The rescue of Addison White, Mechanicsburg, Ohio, 1857 . . 334 

The Oberlin-Wellington rescue, 1858 335 

Obstruction of the Fugitive Slave Law by means of the personal 

liberty acts 337 

John Brown's attempt to free the slaves 338 


Effect of the Underground Railroad 

The Underground Road the means of relieving the South of many 

despairing slaves 340 

'-dl.oss sustained by slave-owners through underground channels . 340 

J The United States census reports on fugitive slaves .... 342 

; Estimate of the number of slaves escaping into Ohio, 1830-1860 . 346 

; Similar estimate for Philadelphia, 1830-1860 346 

' Drain on the resources of the depot at Lawrence, Kansas, described 

in a letter of Col. J. Bowles, April 4, 1859 347 

Work of the Undergi-ound Railroad as compared with that of the 

American Colonization Society 350 

The violation of the Fugitive Slave Law a chief complaint of 

Southern states at the beginning of the Civil War . . . 351 
Refusal of the Canadian government to yield up the fugitive Ander- 
son, 1860 352 

So session of the Southern states begun 353 

"'Conclusion of the fugitive slave controversy 355 

-. General effect and significance of the controversy .... 356 


The Underground Railroad : Levi Coffin receiving a company of 

fugitives in the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio . . Frontispiece 


Isaac T. Hopper 17 

The Runaway : a stereotype cut used on handbills advertising 

escaped slaves 27 

Crossing-place on the Ohio River at SteubenviUe, Ohio ... 47 

The Rankia House, Ripley, Ohio 47 

Facsimile of an Underground Message . . . .On page 57 

Barn of Seymour Finney, Detroit, Michigan ..... 65 

The Old First Church, Galesburg, Illinois 65 

William StiU 75 

Levi Coffin 87 

Frederick Douglass 104 

Caves in Salem Township, Washington County, Ohio . . . 130 

House of Mrs. Elizabeth BufEum Chace, Valley Falls, Rhode Island 130 

The Detroit River at Detroit, Michigan 147 

Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio 147 

Ellen Craft as she escaped from Slavery 163 

Samuel Harper and Wife 163 

Dr. Alexander M. Ross 180 

Harriet Tubman 180 

Group of Refugee Settlers at Windsor, Ontario, C.W. . . .190 

Theodore Parker 205 

Thomas Wentworth Higginson 205 

Dr. Samuel G. Howe 205 

Benjamin Drew 205 

Church of the Fugitive Slaves, Boston, Massachusetts . . .235 

Sahnon P. Chase 254 




Thomas Garrett 254 

Kush K. Sloane 282 

Thaddeus Stevens 282 

J. R. Ware .... 282 

Rutherford B. Hayes 282 

Gerrit Smith 290 

Joshua R. Giddings 290 

Charles Sumner 290 

Richard H. Dana 290 

Bust of Rev. John Rankin 307 

Harriet Beecher Stowe 321 

Captain John Brown 338 

Facsimile of a Leaf from the Diary of Daniel Osborn On pages 344, 345 


Map of the Underground Railroad System . . Facing page 113 

Map of Underground Lines in Southeastern Pennsylvania " 113 

Map of Underground Lines in Morgan County, Ohio . On page 186 
Lewis Falley's Map of the Underground Routes of Indiana and 

Michigan On page 138 

Map of an Underground Line through Livingston and La Salle 

Counties, Illinois On page 139 

Map of Underground Lines through Greene, Warren and Clinton 

Counties, Ohio On page 140 



Appendix A: Constitutional Provisions and National Acts rela- 
tive to Fugitive Slaves, 1787-1850 359-366 

Appendix B : List of Important Fugitive Slave Cases . . 367-377 
Appendix C : Figures from the United States Census Reports 

relating to Fugitive Slaves 378, 379 

Appendix D : Bibliography 380-402 

Appendix E: Directory of the names of Underground Railroad 

Operators and Members of Vigilance Committees . . 403-439 


This volume is tlie outgrowth of an investigation begun 
in 1892-1893, wlien the writer was giving a portion of his 
time to the teaching of United States history in the Ohio 
State University. The search for materials was carried on 
at intervals during several years until the mass of informa- 
tion, written and printed, was deemed sufficient to be sub- 
jected to the processes of analysis and generalization. 

Patience and care have been required to overcome the 
difficulties attaching to a subject that was in an extraordi- 
nary sense a hidden one ; and the author has constantly 
tried to observe those well-known dicta of the historian ; 
namely, to be content with the materials discovered without 
making additions of his own, and to let his conclusions be 
defined by the facts, rather than seek to cast these " in the 
mould of his hypothesis." 

Starting without preconceptions, the writer has been con- 
strained to the views set forth in Chapters X and XI in 
regard to the real meaning and importance of the under- 
ground movement. And if it be found by the reader that 
these views are in any measure novel, it is hoped that the 
pages of this book contain evidence sufficient for their justi- 
fication. There is something mysterious and inexplicable 
about the whole anti-slavery movement in the United States, 
as its history is generally recounted. According to the 
accepted view the anti-slavery movement of the thirties and 
the later decades has been considered as altogether distinct 
from the earlier abolition period in our history, both in prin- 
ciple and external features, and as separated from it by a 


considerable interval of time. The earlier movement is sup- 
posed to have died a natural death, and the later to have 
sprung into full life and vigor with the appearance of Gar- 
rison and the Liberator. Issue is made with this view in 
the following pages, where Macaulay's rational account of 
revolutions in general may, perhaps, be thought to find 
illustration. Macaulay says in one of his essays : " As the 
history of states is generally written, the greatest and most 
momentous revolutions seem to come upon them like super- 
natural inflictions, without warning or cause. But the fact 
is, that such revolutions are almost always the consequences 
of moral changes, which have gradually passed on the mass 
of the community, and which ordinarily proceed far before 
their progress is indicated by any public measure. An inti- 
mate knowledge of the domestic history of nations is there- 
fore absolutely necessary to the prognosis of political events." 
Or, the essayist might have added, to a subsequent under- 
standing of them. 

It is impossible for the author to make acknowledgments 
to all who have contributed, directly and indirectly, to the 
promotion of his research. A liberal use of foot-notes suf- 
fices to reduce his obligations in part only. But, although 
the great balance of his indebtedness must stand against him, 
his special acknowledgments are due in certain quarters. 
The writer has to thank Professor J. Franklin Jameson of 
Brown University for calling his attention to a rare and im- 
portant little book, which otherwise would almost certainly 
have escaped his notice. To Professor Eugene Wambaugh 
of the Harvard Law School he is indebted for the critical 
perusal of Chapter IX, on the Prosecutions of Underground 
Railroad Men, — a chapter based largely on reports of cases, 
and involving legal points about which the layman may 
easily go astray. The frequent citations of the monograph 
on Fugitive Slaves by Mrs. Marion G. McDougall attest the 
general usefulness of that book in the preparation of the 
present work. For personal encouragement in the under- 


taking after the collection of materials had begun, and for 
assistance while the study was being put in manuscript, the 
author is most deeply indebted to Professor Albert Bushnell 
Hart, and the Seminary of American History in Harvard 
University, over which he and his colleague, Professor Ed- 
ward Channing, preside. The proof-sheets of this book have 
been read by Mr. F. B. Sanborn, of Concord, Massachusetts, 
and, it is hardly necessary to add, have profited thereby in a 
way that would have been impossible had they passed under 
the eye of one less widely acquainted with anti-slavery times 
and anti-slavery people. More than to all others the author's 
gratitude is due to the members of his own household, with- 
out whose abiding interest and ready assistance in many 
ways this work could not have been carried to completion. 
It should be said that no responsibility for the use made of 
data or the conclusions drawn from them can justly be 
imposed upon those whose generous ofl&ces have kept these 
pages freer from discrepancies than they could have been 

It is a fortunate circumstance that, by the kindness of the 
artist, Mr. C. T. Webber, the reproduction of his painting 
entitled "The Underground Railroad" can appear as the 
frontispiece of this book. Mr. Webber was fitted by his 
intimate acquaintance with the Coffin family of Cincinnati, 
Ohio, and their remarkable record in the work of secret 
emancipation, to give a sympathetic delineation of the Un- 
derground Railroad in operation. 

Ohio State Universitt, 
October, 1898. 







Historians who deal with the rise and culmination of the 
anti-slavery movement in the United States have compara- 
tively little to say of one phase of it that cannot be neglected 
if the movement is to be fully understood. This is the so- 
called Underground Railroad, which, during fifty years or 
more, was secretly engaged in helping fugitive slaves to 
reach places of security in the free states and in Canada. 
Henry Wilson speaks of the romantic interest attaching to 
the subject, and illustrates the cooperative efforts made by 
abolitionists in behalf of colored refugees in two short chap- 
ters of the second volume of his Itise and Fall of the Slave 
Power in America.^ Von Hoist makes several references to 
the work of the Road in his well-known History of the United 
States, and predicts that " The time will yet come, even in 
the South, when due recognition will be given to the touch- 
ing unselfishness, simple magnanimity and glowing love of 
freedom of these law-breakers on principle, who were for the 
most part people without name, money, or higher educa- 
tion." ^ Rhodes in his great work, the History of the United 

•■ Chapters VI and VII, pp. 61-86. '■ Vol. HI, p. 552, foot-note. 

B 1 


States from the Compromise of 1850, mentions the system, but 
considers it only as a manifestation of popular sentiment.^ 
Other writers give less space to an account of this enterprise, 
although it was one that extended throughout many Northern 
states, and in itself supplied the reason for the enactment of 
the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, one of the most remarkable 
measures issuing from Congress during the whole anti-slavery 

The explanation of the failure to give to this " institution ". 
the prominence which it deserves, is to be found in the 
secrecy in which it was enshrouded. Continuous through a 
period of two generations, the Road spread to be a great sys- 
tem by being kept in an oblivion that its operators aptly des- 
ignated by the figurative use of the word "underground." 
Then, too, it was a movement in which but few of those per- 
sons were involved whose names have been most closely asso- 
ciated in history with the public agitation of the question of 
slavery, or with those political developments that resulted in 
the destruction of slavery. In general the participants in 
1 underground operations were quiet persons, little known out- 
side of the localities where they lived, and were therefore 
members of a class that historians find it exceedingly diffi- 
cult to bring within their field of view. 

Before attempting to prepare a new account of the Under- 
ground Railroad, from new materials, something should be 
said of previous works upon it, and especially of the seven 
books which deal specifically with the subject : The Under- 
ground Railroad, by the Rev. W. M. Mitchell ; Underground 
Railroad Records, by William StiU ; The Underground Rail- 
road in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, 
by R. C. Smedley; The Reminiscences of Levi Coffin; Sketches 
in the History of the Underground Railroad, by Eber M. Pet- 
tit ; From Dixie to Canada, by H. U. Johnson ; and Heroes 
in Homespun, by Ascott R. Hope (a nom de plume for Robert 
Hope Moncrieff). 

While several of these volumes are sources of original 
material, their value is chiefly that of collections of incidents, 
affording one an insight into the workings of the Under- 
1 History of the United States, Vol. II, pp. 74-77, 361, 362. 


ground Railroad in certain localities, and presenting types of 
character among the helpers and the helped. In composi- 
tion they are what one would expect of persons who lived 
simple, strenuous lives, who with sincerity record what they 
knew and experienced. They have not only the characteris- 
tics of a deep-seated, moral movement, they have also an 
undeniable value for historical purposes. 

Mitchell's small volume of 172 pages was published in 
England in 1860. Its author was a free negro, who served 
as a slave-driver in the South for several years, then became 
a preacher in Ohio, and for twelve years engaged in under- 
ground work ; finally, about 1855, he went to Toronto, Can- 
ada, to minister to colored refugees as a missionary in the 
service of the American Free Baptist Mission Society. ^ It 
was while soliciting money in England for the purpose of 
building a chapel and schoolhouse for his people in Toronto 
that he was induced to write his book. The range of expe- 
rience of the author enabled him to relate at first hand many 
incidents illustrative of the various phases of underground 
procedure, and to give an account of the condition of the 
fugitive slaves in Canada.^ 

Still's Underground Railroad Records, a large volume of 
780 pages, appeared in 1872, and a second edition in 1883. 
For some years before the War Mr. Still was a clerk in the 
ofiice of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in Philadel- 
phia ; and from 1852 to '1860 he served as chairman of the 
Acting Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia, a body whose 
special business it was to harbor fugitives and help them 
towards Canada. About 1850 Mr. Still began to keep records 
of the stories he heard from runaways, and his book is mainly 
a compilation of these stories, together with some Under- 
ground Railroad correspondence. At the end there are some 
biographical sketches of persons more or less prominent in the 
anti-slavery cause. The book is a mine of material relating 
to the work of the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia. 

1 Mitchell, Underground Bailroad, Preface, p. vi ; p. 17. 

2 Mr. Mitchell divides his little book into two chapters, one on the "Under- 
ground Railroad," occupying 124 pages, the other on the "Condition of 
Fugitive Slaves in Canada," occupying 48 pages. 


Operations carried on in an extended field of six or seven 
counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, over routes many of 
which led to the Quaker City, are recounted in Smedley's 
volume of 395 pages, published in 1883. The abundant 
reminiscences and short biographies were patiently gathered 
by the author from many aged participants in iinderground 

In his Reminiscences, a book of 732 pages, Levi Coffin, the 
reputed president of the Underground Railroad, relates his 
experiences from the time when he began, as a youth in 
North Carolina, to direct slaves northward on the path to 
liberty, till the time when, after twenty years of service in 
eastern Indiana and fifteen in Cincinnati, Ohio, he and his 
coworkers were relieved by the admission of slaves within 
the lines of the Union forces in the South. Mr. Coffin was 
a Quaker of the gentle but firm type depicted by Harriet 
Beecher Stowe in the character Simeon Halliday, of which he 
may have been the original. It need scarcely be said, there- 
fore, that his autobiography is characterized by simplicity and 
candor, and supplies a fund of information in regard to those 
branches of the Road with which its author was connected. 

Pettit's Sketches comprise a series of articles printed in the 
Fredonia (New York) Censor, during the fall of 1868, and 
collected in 1879 into a book of 174 pages. The author was 
for many years a "conductor" in southwestern New York, 
and most of the adventures narrated occurred within his 
personal knowledge. 

Johnson's From Dixie to Canada is a little volume of 194 
pages, in which are reprinted some of the many stories first 
published by him in the Lalce Shore Home Magazine during 
the years 1883 to 1889 under the heading, " Romances and 
Realities of the Underground Raiboad." The data that 
most of these tales embody were accumulated by research, 
and while the names of operators, towns and so forth are 
authentic, the writer allows himself the license of the story- 
teller instead of restricting himself to the simple recording 
of the information secured. His investigations have given 
him an acquaintance with the routes of northeastern Ohio 
and the adjacent portions of Pennsylvania and New York. 


Hope's volume, published in 1894, does not increase the 
number of our sources of information, inasmuch as its 
materials are derived from Stdl's Underground Railroad 
Records and Cofiin's Reminiscences. It ■was written by an 
Englishman apparently as a popular exposition of the hidden 
methods of the abolitionists. 

To these books should be added a pamphlet of thirty pages, 
entitled The Underground Railroad, by James H. Fairchild,v--- 
D.D., ex-President of Oberlin College, published in 1895 
by the Western Reserve Historical Society.^ The author 
had personal knowledge of many of the events he narrates 
and recounts several underground cases of notoriety; he 
thus affords a clear insight into the conditions under which 
secret aid came to be rendered to runaways. 

It is surprising that a subject, the mysterious and romantic 
character of which might be supposed to appeal to a wide 
circle of readers, has not been duly treated in any of the 
modern popular magazines. During the last ten years a few 
articles about the Underground Railroad have appeared in 
The Magazine of Western History? The Firelands Pioneer,^ 
The Midland Monthly,*^ The Canadian Magazine of Polities, 
Science, Art and Literature^ and The American Sistorical 
Review.^ Three of these publications, the first two and the 
last, are of a special character ; the other two, although they 
appeal to the general reader, cannot be said to have attempted 
more than the presentation of a few incidents out of the 
experience of cei-tain underground helpers. From time to 
time the Xew England Magazine has given its readers 
glimpses of the Underground Road by its articles dealing 
with several well-known fugitive slave cases, and a bio- 

^ Tract No. 87, in Vol. IV, pp. 91-121, of the publications of the Society. 

- ilarch, 1887, pp. 672-6S2. 

' July, 1888, pp. 19-88. This periodical is issued by the Firelands His- 
torical Society of Ohio. The bulk of the number mentioned is made 
up of contributions in regard to the Underground Boad in nortiwestem 

* Februarv. 1895, pp. 173-180. 

5 May. 1895, pp. 9-16. 

« April, 1896, pp. 455-463. This article is a preliminary study prepared by 
the author. 


graphical sketch of the abductor Harriet Tubman.^ But it 
would be quite impossible for any one to gain an adequate 
idea of the movement from the meagre accounts that have 
appeared in any of these magazines. 

In contrast with the magazines, the newspapers have fre- 
quently published some of the stirring recollections of sur- 
viving abolitionists, but the result for the reader is usually 
that he learns only some anecdotes concerning a small section 
of the Road, without securing an insight into the real signifi- 
cance of the underground movement. Without undertaking 
here to print a full list of articles on the subject, it is worth 
while to notice a few newspapers in which series of sketches 
have appeared of more or less value in extending our geo- 
graphical knowledge of the system, or in illustrating some 
important phase of its working. The New Lexington (Ohio) 
Tribune, from October, 1885, to February, 1886, contains a 
series of reminiscences, written by Mr. Thomas L. Gray, that 
supply interesting information about the work in southeastern 
Ohio. The Pontiac (Illinois) Sentinel, in 1890 and 1891, 
published fifteen chapters of "A History of Anti-Slavery 
Days " contributed by Mr. W. B. Fyffe, recording some epi- 
sodes in the development of this Road in northeastern Illinois. 
The Sentinel, of Mt. Gilead, Ohio, in a series of articles, one 
of which appeared every week from July 13 to August 17, 
1893, under the name of Aaron Benedict, affords a knowledge 
of the way in which the secret work was carried on in a typi- 
cal Quaker community. In The Republican Leader, of Salem, 
Indiana, at various dates from Nov. 17, 1893, to April, 1894, 
E. Hicks Trueblood printed the results of some investiga- 
tions begun at the instance of the author, which disclose 
the principal routes of south central Indiana. An account 
of the peculiar methods of the pedler Joseph Sider, an ab- 
ductor of slaves, is also given by Mr. Trueblood. The Rev. 

1 Llllie B. C. Wyman ; " Black and White," in New England Magazine, 
N.S., Vol. V, pp. 476-481 ; " Harriet Tubman," ibid., March, 1896, pp. 110- 
118. Nina M. Tiffany: "The Escape of William and Ellen Craft," ibid., 
January, 1890, p. 524 et seq.; "Shadrach," ibid., May, 1890, pp. 280-283; 
" Sims," ifttU, June, 1890, pp. 385-388; " Anthony Burns," ibid., July, 1890, 
pp. 569-576. A. H. Grimk6 : "Anti-Slavery Boston," ibid., December, 1890, 
pp. 441-459. 


John Todd has preserved in the columns of the Tabor (Iowa) 
Beacon, in 1890 and 1891, some valuable reminiscences, 
running through more than twenty numbers of the paper, 
under the title, " The Early Settlement and Growth of West- 
ern Iowa"; several of these are devoted to fugitive slave 

It is not surprising, in view of the unlawful nature of 
Underground Railroad service, that extremely little in the 
way of contemporaneous documents has descended to us even 
across the short span of a generation or two, and that theie 
are few written data for the history of a movement that gave 
liberty to thousands of slaves. The legal restraints upon the 
rendering of aid to slaves bent on flight to Canada were, of 
course, ever present in the minds of those that pitied the 
bondman, whether a well-informed lawyer, like Joshua R. 
Giddings, or an illiterate negro, who, notwithstanding his 
fellow-feeling, was yet sufficiently sagacious to avoid the open 
violation of what others might call the law of the land. There- 
fore, written evidence of complicity was for the most part 
carefully avoided ; and little information concerning any part 
of the work of the Underground Road was allowed to get 
into print. It is known that records and diaries were kept 
by certain helpers ; and a few of the letters and messages 
that passed between station-keepers have been preserved. 
These sources of information are as valuable as they are 
rare : they would doubtless be more plentiful if the Fugitive 
Slave Law of 1850 had not created such consternation as to 
lead to the destruction of most of the telltale documents. 

The great collection of contemporaneous material is that 
of William Still, relating mainly to the work of the Vigilance 
Committee of Philadelphia. The motives and the methods 
of Mr. Still in keeping his register are given in the following 
words : " Thousands of escapes, harrowing separations, dread- 
ful longings, dark gropings after lost parents, brothers, sisters, 
and identities, seemed ever to be pressing on my mind. While 
I knew the danger of keeping strict records, and while I did 
not then dream that in my day slavery would be blotted out, 

' Other newspapers in which materials have been found are mentioned in 
the Appendix, pp. 395-398. 


or that the time would come when I could publish these rec- 
ords, it used to afford me great satisfaction to take them down 
fresh from the lips of fugitives on the way to freedom, and 
to preserve them as they had given them. . . ." ^ When in 
1852 Mr. Still became the chairman of the Acting Committee 
of Vigilance his opportunities were doubtless increased for 
obtaining histories of cases ; and he was then directed as head 
of the committee " to keep a record of all their doings, . . . 
especially of the money received and expended on behalf of 
every case claiming their interposition." ^ During the period 
of the War, Chairman Still concealed the records and docu- 
ments he had collected in the loft of Lebanon Cemetery 
building, and although their publication became practicable 
when the Proclamation of Emancipation was issued, the 
Underground Railroad Records did not appear until 1872.^ 

Theodore Parker, the distinguished Unitarian clergyman 
of Boston, and one of the most active members of the Vigi- 
lance Committee of that city, kept memoranda of occurrences 
growing out of the attempted enforcement of the Fugitive Slave 
Law in his neighborhood. He was outspoken in his opposition 
to the law, and was not less bold in gathering into a journal, 
along with newspaper clippings and handbills referring to the 
troubles of the time, manuscripts of his own bearing on the 
unlawful procedure of the Committee. This journal or scrap- 
book, given to the Boston Public Library in 1874 by Mrs. 
Parker,* was compiled day by day from March 15, 1851, to 
February 19, 1856, and throws much light on the rendition 
of the fugitives Burns and Sims. 

John Brown, of Osawattomie, left a few notes of his mem- 
orable journey through Kansas and Iowa, on his way to Canada 
in the winter of 1858 and 1859, with a company of slaves res- 
cued by him from bondage in western Missouri. On the back 
of the original draft of a letter written by Brown for the New 
York Tribune soon after the slaves had been taken from their 

1 Underground Bailroad Becords, pp. xxxiii, xxxiy. 

2 Ibid., p. 611, where is printed an article from the Pennsylvania Freeman, 
December 9, 1852, giving an account of the formation of the Committee. 

' See pp. xxxiv, xxxv, xxxvi. 

* The title Mr. Parker gave to this scrap-book is as follows : "Memoranda 
of the Troubles in Boston occasioned by the infamous Fugitive Slave Law." 


masters, appear the names of station-keepers of the Under- 
ground Railroad in eastern Kansas, and a record of certain 
expenditures forming, doubtless, a part of the cost of his trip.^ 
When the fearless abductor arrived at Springdale, Iowa, late 
in February, he wrote to a friend in Tabor a statement con- 
cerning the " Reception of Brown and Party at Grinnell, Iowa, 
compared with Proceedings at Tabor," in which he set down 
in the form of items the substantial attentions he had received 
at the hands of citizens of Grinnell.^ These meagre records, 
together with the letter written to the Tribune mentioned 
above, are all that Brown wrote, so far as known, giving ex- 
plicit information in regard to an exploit that created a stir 
throughout the country. 

Mr. Jirch Piatt, of the vicinity of Mendon, Illinois, recorded 
his experiences as a station-keeper in a "sort of diary and 
farm record," and in a "blue-book," and appears to have 
been the only one of the underground helpers of Illinois that 
ventured to chronicle matters of this kind. The diary is 
stiU extant, and shows entries covering a period of more 
than ten years, closing with October, 1859; the following 
items will illustrate sufficiently the character of the record : — 

"May 19, 1848. Hannah Coger arrived on the U. G. Rail- 
road, the last $100.00 for freedom she was to pay to Thomas 
Anderson, Palmyra, Mo. The track is kept bright, it being 
the 3rd time occupied since the first of April." . . . 

" Nov. 9, '54. Negro hoax stories have been very high in 
the market for a week past." 

" Oct. 1859. U. G. R. R. Conductor reported the passage 
of five, who were considered very valuable pieces of Ebony, 
all designated by names, such as John BrooJcs, Daniel Brooks, 
Mason Bushrod, Sylvester Luchet and Hanson Grause. Have 
understood also that three others were ticketed about mid- 

In Ohio, Daniel Osborn, of the Alum Creek Quaker 
Settlement, in the central part of the state, kept a diary, of 

1 Sanborn, Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 482. 

2 Ibid., pp. 488, 489. 


which to-day only a leaf remains. This bit of paper gives a 
record of the number of negroes passing through the Alum 
Creek neighborhood during an interval of five months, from 
April 14 to September 10, 1844, and is of considerable impor- 
tance, because it supplies data that furnish, when taken in 
connection with other terms, the elements for an interesting 
computation of the number of slaves that escaped into Ohio.^ 
In the correspondence of Mr. David Putnam, of Point 
Hamar, near Marietta, Ohio, there were found a few letters 
relating to the journeys of fugitives. That even these few 
letters remain is doubtless due to neglect or oversight on the 
part of the recipient. It is noticeable that some of them 
bear unmistakable signs of intended secrecy, the proper 
names having been blotted out, or covered with bits of 

Underground managers who were so indiscreet as to keep 
a diary or letters for a season, were induced to part with such 
condemning evidence under the stress of a special danger. 
Mr. Robert Purvis, of Philadelphia, states that he kept a 
record of the fugitives that passed through his hands and 
those of his coworkers in the Quaker City for a long period, 
till the trepidation of his family after the passage of the Fugi- 
tive Slave Bill in 1850 caused him to destroy it.^ Daniel 
Gibbons, a Friend, who lived near Columbia in southeastern 
Pennsylvania, began in 1824 to keep a record of the number 
of fugitives he aided. He was in the habit of entering in his 
book the name of the master of each fugitive, the fugitive's 
own name and his age, and the new name given him. The 
data thus gathered came in time to form a large volume, 
but after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law Mr. Gibbons 
burned this book.^ William Parker, the colored leader in 
the famous Christiana case, was found by a friend to have a 
large number of letters from escaped slaves hidden about \is 
house at the time of the Christiana affair, September 11, 1851, 
and these fateful documents were quickly destroyed. Had 
they been discovered 6y the officers that visited Parker's 

1 See Chap. XI, p. 346. 

" Conversation with Eohert Purvis, Philadelphia, Pa., December 24, 1895. 

» Smedley, Underground Bailroad, pp. 56, 57. 


house, they might have brought disaster upon many persons. ^ 
Thus, the need of secrecy constantly served to prevent the 
making of records, or to bring about their early destruction. 
The written and printed records do give a multitude of 
unquestioned facts about the Underground Railroad; but 
when wishing to find out the details of rational management, 
the methods of business, and the total amount of traffic, we 
are thrown back on the recollections of living abolitionists as 
the main source of information ; from them the gaps in the 
real history of the Underground Railroad must be filled, if 
filled at all. 

It is with the aid of such memorials that the present vol- 
ume has been written. Reminiscences have been gathered 
by correspondence and by travel from many surviving aboli- 
tionists or their families ; and recollections of fugitive slave 
days have been culled from books, newspapers, letters and 
diaries. During three years of the five years of preparation 
the author's residence in Ohio afforded him opportunity to 
visit many places in that state where former employees of 
the Underground Railroad could be found, and to extend 
these explorations to southern Michigan, and among the sur- 
viving fugitives along the Detroit River in the Province of 
Ontario. Residence in Massachusetts during the years 1895- 
1897 has enabled him to secure some interesting information 
in regard to underground lines in New England. The mate- 
rials thus collected relate to the following states : Iowa, Wis- 
consin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New 
Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode 
Island, Massachusetts and Vermont, besides a few items con- 
cerning North Carolina, Maryland and Delaware. 

Underground operations practically ceased with the begin- 
ning of the Civil War. In view of the lapse of time, the 
reasons for trusting the credibility of the evidence upon 
which our knowledge of the Underground Road rests should 
be stated. Some of the testimony dealt with in this chapter 
was put in writing during the period of the Road's operation, 
or at the close of its activity, and, therefore, cannot be easily 
questioned. But it may be said that a large part of the 

1 Smedley, Underground Mailroad, pp. 120, 121. 


materials for this history were drawn from written and oral 
accounts obtained at a much later date ; and that these mate- 
rials, even though the honesty and fidelity of the narrators 
be granted, are worthy of little credit for historical purposes. 
Such a criticism would doubtless be just as applied to remin- 
iscences purporting to represent particular events with great 
detail of narration, but clearly it would lose much of its 
force when directed against recollections of occurrences that 
came within the range of the narrator's experience, not once 
nor twice, but many times with little variation in their main 
features. It would be difficult to imagine an " old-time " 
abolitionist, whose faculties are in a fair state of preservation, 
forgetting that he received fugitives from a certain neighbor 
or community a few miles away, that he usually stowed 
them in his garret or his haymow, and that he was in the 
habit of taking them at night in all kinds of weather to one 
of several different stations, the managers of which he knew 
intimately and trusted implicitly. Not only did repetition 
serve to deepen the general recollections of the average opera- 
tor, but the strange and romantic character of his unlawful 
business helped to fix them in his mind. Some special occur- 
rences he is apt to remember with vividness, because they 
were in some way extraordinary. If it be argued that the 
surviving abolitionists are now old persons, it should not be 
forgotten that it is a fact of common observation that old per- 
sons ordinarily remember the occurrences of their youth and 
prime better than events of recent date. The abolitionists, 
as a class, were people whose remembrances of the ante-bel- 
lum days were deepened by the clear definition of their gov- 
erning principles, the abiding sense of their religious convic- 
tions, and the extraordinary conditions, legal and social, 
under which their acts were performed. The risks these 
persons ran, the few and scattered friends they had, the con- 
centration of their interests into small compass, because of 
the disdain of the communities where they lived, have se- 
cured to us a source of knowledge, the value of which cannot 
be lightly questioned. If there be doubt on this point, it 
must give way before the manner in which statements gath- 
ered from different localities during the last five years articu- 


late together, the testimony of different and sometimes widely 
separated witnesses combining to support one another.^ 
' The elucidation by new light of some obscure matter 
already reported, the verification by a fresh witness of some 
fact already discovered, gives at once the rule and test of an 
investigation such as this. Out of many illustrations that 
might be given, the following are offered. Mr. J. M. Forsyth, 
of Northwood, Logan County, Ohio, writes under date Sep- 
tember 22, 1894: "In Northwood there is a denomination 
known as Covenanters ; among them the runaways were safe. 
Isaac Patterson has a cave on his place where the fugitives 
were secreted and fed two or three weeks at a time until 
the hunt for them was over. Then friends, as hunters, in 
covered wagons would take them to Sandusky. The highest 
number taken at one time was seven. The conductors were 
mostly students from Northwood. All I did was to help get 
up the team. . . ." 

The Rev. J. S. T. Milligan, of Esther, Pennsylvania, Decem- 
ber 5, 1896, writes entirely independently: "In 1849 my 
brother . . . and I went ... to Logan Co., Ohio, to conduct 
a grammar school ... at a place called Northwood. The 
school developed into a college under the title of Geneva 
Hall. J. R. W. Sloane'^ . . . was elected President and 
moved to Northwood in 1851. . . . The region was settled 
by Covenanters and Seceders, and every house was a home 
for the wanderers. But there was a cave on the farm of a 
man by the name of Patterson, absolutely safe and fairly 

1 The value of reminiscences and memoirs Is considered in an article on 
" EecoUections as a Source of History," by the Hon. Edward L. Pierce, in 
the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Mistorical Society, March and April, 
1896, pp. 473-490. This, with the remarks of Professor H. Morse Stephens 
in his article entitled " Eecent Memoirs of the French Directory," American 
Historical Review, April, 1896, pp. 475, 476, 489, should be read as a cor- 
rective by the student that finds himself constrained to have recourse to 
recollections for information. 

2 The Rev. J. R. W. Sloane, D.D., was the father of Professor William M. 
Sloane, of Columbia University, New York City. Professor Sloane, in a 
letter recently received, says: "The first clear, conscious memory I have is 
of seeing slaves taken from our garret near midnight, and forwarded towards 
Sandusky. I also remember the formal, but rather friendly, visitation of 
the house by the sheriff's posse." Sate of letter, Paris, November 19, 1896 


comfortable for fugitives. In one instance thirteen fugitives, 
after resting in the cave for some days, were taken by the 
students in two covered wagons to Sandusky, some 90 miles, 
where I had gone to engage passage for them on the Bay 
City steamboat across the lake to Maiden — where I saw them 
safely landed on free soil, to their unspeakable joy. Indeed, 
I thought one old man would have died from the gladness 
of his heart in being safe in freedom. I went from Belle 
Centre [near Northwood] by rail, and did not go with the 
land escort — but from what they told me of their expe- 
rience, it was often amusing and sometimes thrilling. They 
were ostensibly a hunting party of 10 or 12 armed men. . . . 
The two covered wagons were a 'sanctum sanctorum' into 
which no mortal was allowed to peep. . . . The word of 
command, ' Stand back,' was always respected by those who 
were unduly intent upon seeing the thirteen deer . . . 
brought from the woods of Logan and Hardin counties and 
being taken to Sandusky." 

In the same letter Mr. Milligan corroborates some infor- 
mation secured from the Eev. R. G. Ramsey, of Cadiz, Ohio, 
August 18, 1892, in regard to an underground route in 
southern Illinois. Mr. Ramsey related that his father, Robert 
Ramsey, first engaged in Underground Railroad work at 
Eden, Randolph County, Illinois, in 1844, and that he carried 
it on at intervals until the War. " The fugitives," he said, 
"came up the river to Chester, Illinois, and there they 
started northeast on the state road, which followed an old 
Indian trail. The stations were each in a community of 
Covenanters, ..." and existed, according to his account, 
at Chester, Eden, Oakdale, Nashville and Centralia. "Be- 
sides my father," said Mr. Ramsey, " John Hood and two 
brothers, James B. and Thomas McClurkin, lived in Oakdale, 
where my father lived during the last thirty-five years of his 
life. He lived in Eden before this time. . . . " ^ The Rev. 
Mr. Milligan writes as follows: "My father removed to 
Randolph Co., 111., in 1847, and with Rev. Wm. Sloane . . . 
and the Covenanter congregations under their ministry kept 
a very large depot wide open for slaves escaping from Mis- 

1 Conversation with the Eev. E. G. Eamsey, Cadiz, Ohio, August 18, 1892. 


souri. Scores at a time came to Sparta [the post-office of 
the Eden settlement mentioned above] — my father's region, 
■were harbored there, . . . and finally escorted to Elkhorn 
[about two miles from Oakdale], the region of Father Sloane, 
where they were sheltered and escorted ... to some friends 
in the region of Nashville, 111., and thence north on the regu- 
lar trail which I am not able further to locate. At Sparta, 
Coultersville and Elkhorn there was an almost constant 
supply of fugitives. . . . But . . . few were ever gotten 
from the aegis of the Hayes and Moores and Todds and 
McLurkins and Hoods and Sloanes and Milligans of that 

The evidence above quoted has the well-known value of 
two witnesses, examined apart, who corroborate each other; 
and it also illustrates the way in which the pieces of under- 
ground routes may be joined together. These letters, together 
with some additional testimony, enable us to trace on the map 
a section of a secret line of travel in southern Illinois. 

Another example throws light on a channel of escape in 
northeastern Indiana. While Levi Coffin lived at Newportt 
(now Fountain City), Indiana, he sometimes sent slaves north- 
ward by way of what he called " the Mississinewa route," ^ from 
the Mississinewa River, near which undoubtedly it ran for a 
considerable distance. This road seems to have been called 
also the Grant County route. In the most general way only 
do these descriptions tell anything about the route. However, 
correspondence with several people of Indiana has brought it 
to light. One letter^ informs us in regard to fugitives de- 
parting from Newport : " If they came to Economy they were 
sent to Grant Co. . . ." Now, so far as known, Jonesboro' 
was the next locality to which they were usually forwarded, 
and the line from this point northward is given us by the 
Hon. John Ratliff, of Marion, Indiana, who had been over it 
with passengers. He says that the first station north of 
Jonesboro' was North Manchester, where " Morris " Place 

1 Beminiscences, p. 184. 

2 Letter of John Charles, Economy, Wayne County, Indiana, January 9, 
1896. Mr. Charles is a Quaker, and took part in the underground work at 


was agent; the next station, Goshen, where Dr. Matchett 
harbored fugitives; and thence the line ran to Young's 
Prairie,^ which is in Cass County, Michigan. The same sec- 
tion of Road, but with a few additional stations, is marked out 
by William Hayward. The additional stations may not have 
existed at the time when Mr. RatlifE served as a guide, or he 
may have forgotten to mention them. Mr. Hayward writes : 
" My cousin, Maurice Place, often brought carriage loads of 
colored people from North Manchester, Wabash Co., to my 
father's house, six miles west of Manchester on the Rochester 
road. . . . We would keep them . . . until sometime in the 
night ; then my father would go with them to Avery Brace's 
. . . three miles . . . north, through the woods. He took 
them . . . seven miles farther ... to Chauncey Hurlburt's 
in Kosciusko Co. . . . They (the Hurlburts) took them 
twelve miles farther ... to Warsaw, to a man by the name 
of Gordon, and he took them to Dr. Matchett's in Elkhart 
Co., not far from Goshen. There were friends there to help 
them to Michigan." ^ 

In weighing the testimony amassed, the author has had 
the advantage of personal acquaintance with many of those 
furnishing information ; and the internal evidence of letters 
has been considered in estimating the worth of written testi- 
mony. Doubtless the work could have been more thoroughly 
executed, if the collection of materials had been systemati- 
cally undertaken by some one a decade or two earlier. It is 
certain that it could not have been postponed to a later 
period. Since the inception of this research the ravages of 
time have greatly thinned the company of witnesses, who 
count it' among their chiefest joys that they were permitted 
to live to see their country rid of slavery, and the negro race 
a free people. 

1 Letter from Charles W. Osbom, Economy, Indiana, March 4, 1896. Mr. 
Osborn obtained the nameS of stations in conversation with Mr. Ratliff. 

2 Letter of 'William Hayward. 










Mr, Hopper is supposed to have resorted to underground methods as early as 1787. 



The Underground Road developed in a section of country- 
rid of slavery, and situated between two regions, from one of 
which slaves were continually escaping with the prospect of 
becoming indisputably free on crossing the borders of the 
other. Not a few persons living within the intervening ter- 
ritory were deeply opposed to slavery, and although they 
were bound by law to discountenance slaves seeking free- 
dom, they felt themselves to be more strongly bound by con- 
science to give them help. Thus it happened that in the 
course of the sixty years before the outbreak of the War 
of the Rebellion the Northern states became traversed by 
numerous secret pathways leading from Southern bondage 
to Canadian liberty. 

Slavery was put in process of extinction at an early period 
in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the New Eng- 
land states. From the five and a fraction states created out 
of the Northwestern Territory slavery was excluded by 
the Ordinance of 1787. It is interesting to note how rapid 
was the progress of emancipation in the Northeastern states, 
where the conditions of climate, industry and public opinion 
were unfavorable to the continuance of slavery. In 1777 
emancipation was begun by the action of Vermont, which 
upon its separation from New York adopted a constitution 
in which slavery was prohibited. Pennsylvania and Massa- 
chusetts took action three years later. Pennsylvania pro- 
vided by statute for gradual abolition, and its example was 
followed by Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1784, by New 
York in 1799, and by New Jersey in 1804. Massachusetts 
was less direct, but not less effective, in securing the extinc- 
tion of slavery ; happily it had inserted in the declaration of 
o 17 


rights prefixed to its constitution: "All men are born free 
and equal, and have certain natural, essential and inalien- 
able rights." ^ This clause received at a later time strict 
interpretation at the bar of the state supreme court, and 
slavery was held to have ceased with the year 1780. 

There is little to be said about the remaining group of 
states with which we are here concerned. Their territorial 
organizations were effected under the provisions of the Ordi- 
nance of 1787. One of the most important of these pro- 
visions is as follows : " There shall be neither slavery nor 
involuntary servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than 
in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have 
been duly convicted." ^ It was this feature, introduced into 
the great Ordinance by New England men, that rendered 
futile the many attempts subsequently made by Indiana Ter- 
ritory to have slavery admitted within its own boundaries by 
congressional enactment. " It is probable," says Rhodes, 
" that had it not been for the prohibitory clause, slavery 
would have gained such a foothold in Indiana and Illinois 
that the two would have been organized as slaveholding 
states." ^ The five states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan 
and Wisconsin were therefore admitted to the Union as free 
states. West of the Mississippi River there is one state, at 
least, that must be added to the group just indicated, namely, 
Iowa. Slaveholding was prevented within its domain by 
the Act of Congress of 1820, prohibiting slavery in the 
territory acquired under the Louisiana purchase north of 
latitude 36° 30', and several years before this law was 
abrogated Iowa had entered statehood with a constitution 
that fixed her place among the free commonwealths. The 
enfranchisement of this extended region was thus accom- 
plished by state and national action. The ominous result 
was the establishment of a sweeping line of frontier between 
the slaveholding South and the non-slaveholding North, and 
thereby the propounding to the nation of a new question, 

1 Constitution of Massachusetts, Part I, Art. 1 ; quoted by Du Bois, Sup- 
pression of the Slave Trade, p. 225. 

2 See Appendix A, p. 359. 

' History of the United States, Vol. I, p. 16. 


that of the status of fugitives in free regions. The elements 
were in the proper condition for the crystallization of this 
question. — 

The colonies generally had found it necessary to provide 
regulations in regard to fugitives and the restoration of them 
to their masters. Such provisions, it is probable, were reason- 
ably well observed as long as runaways did not escape beyond 
the borders of the colonies to which their owners belonged ; 
but escapes from the territory of one colony into that of an- 
other were at first left to be settled as the state of feeling 
existing between the two peoples concerned should dictate. 
In 1643 the New England Confederation of Plymouth, Massa-' 
chusetts, Connecticut and New Haven, unwilling to leave the 
subject of the delivery of fugitives longer to intercolonial 
comity, incorporated a clause in their Articles of Confedera- 
tion providing : " If any servant runn away from his master 
into any other of these confederated Jurisdiccons, That in 
such case vpon the Certyficate of one Majistrate in the Juris- 
diccon out of which the said servant fled, or upon other due 
proofs, the said servant shall be deliuered either to his Mas- 
ter or any other that pursues and brings such Certificate or 
proofe." About the same time an agreement was entered into 
between the Dutch at New Netherlands and the English at 
New Haven for the mutual surrender of fugitives, a step that 
was preceded by a complaint from the commissioners of the 
United Colonies to Governor Stuyvesant of New Netherlands, 
to the effect that the Dutch agent at Hartford was harboring 
one of their Indian slaves, and by the refusal to return some 
of Stuyvesant's runaway servants from New Haven until the 
redress of the grievance. It was only when some of the fugi- 
tives had been restored to New Netherlands, and a proclama- 
tion, issued in a spirit of retaliation by the Lords of the West 
India Company, forbidding the rendition of fugitive slaves to 
New Haven, had been annulled, that the agreement for the 
mutual surrender of runaways was made by the two parties. 
Negotiations in regard to fugitives early took place between 
Maryland and New Netherlands ; at one time on account of 
the flight of some slaves from the Southern colony into the 
Northern colony, and later on account of the reversal of the 


conditions. The temper of the Dutch when calling for their 
servants in 1659 was not conciliatory, for they threatened, if 
their demand should be refused, "to publish free liberty, 
access and recess to all planters, servants, negroes, fugitives, 
and runaways which may go into New Netherland." The 
escape of fugitives from the Eastern colonies northward to 
Canada was also a constant source of trouble between the 
French and the Dutch, and between the French and English.^ 

When, therefore, emancipation acts were passed by Ver- 
mont and four other states the new question came into exist- 
ence. It presented itself also in the Western territories. 
The framers of the Northwest Ordinance found themselves 
confronted by the question, and they dealt with it in the 
spirit of compromise. They enacted a stipulation for the 
territory, "that any person escaping into the same, from 
whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the 
original states, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and 
conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service 
aforesaid." ^ 

Meanwhile the Federal Convention in Philadelphia had the 
same question to consider. The result of its deliberations on 
the point was not different from that of Congress expressed 
in the Ordinance. Among the concessions to slavery that 
the Federal Convention felt constrained to make, this provi- 
sion found place in the Constitution : " No person held to 
service or labor in one state under the laws thereof, escaping 
into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation 
therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall 
be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service 
or labor may be due." ^ Neither of these clauses appears to 
have been subjected to much debate, and they were adopted 
by votes that testify to their acceptableness ; the former re- 
ceived the support of all members present but one, the latter 
passed unanimously. 

In the sentiment of the time there seems to have been no 

1 M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 2-11. 
^ Journals of Congress, XII, 84, 92. 

3 Constitution of the United States, Art. IV, § 2. See Bevised Statutes of 
the United States, I, 18. See also Appendix A, p. 359. 


sense of humiliation on the part of the North over the con- 
clusions reached concerning the rendition of escaped slaves. 
It had been seen by Northern men that the subject was one 
requiring conciliatory treatment, if it were not to become a 
block in the way of certain Southern states entering the 
Union; and, besides, the opinion generally prevailed that 
slavery would gradually disappear from all the states, and 
the riddle would thus solve itself.^ The South was pleased, 
but apparently not exultant, over the supposed security 
gained for its slave property. General C. C. Pinckney, of 
South Carolina, probably expressed the view of most South- 
erners when he said that the terms for the security of slave 
property gained by his section were not bad, although they 
were not the best from the slaveholders' standpoint, and that 
they permitted the recapture of runaways in any part of 
America — a right the South had never before enjoyed.^ In 
abstract law the rights of the slave-owner had in truth been 
well provided for. Especially deserving of note is the fact 
that a constitutional basis had been furnished for claims 
which, in case slavery did not disappear from the country — 
a contingency not anticipated by the fathers — might be in- 
sisted upon as having the fundamental and positive sanction 
of the government. But what would be the fate of the run- 
ning slave was a matter with which, after all, private princi- 
ples and sympathies, and not merely constitutional provisions, 
would have a good deal to do in each case. 

For several years the stipulations for the rendition of fugi- 
tive slaves remained inoperative. At length, in 1791, a case 
of kidnapping occurred at Washington, Pennsylvania, and 
this served to bring the subject once more to the public 
mind. Early in 1793 Congress passed the first Fugitive Slave 
Law.^ This law provided for the reclamation of fugitives 
from justice and fugitives from labor. We are concerned, of 
course, with the latter class only. The sections of the act 
dealing with this division are too long to be here quoted : 

1 Elliot's Debates. See also George Livermore's Historical Research 
Respecting the Opinions of the Founders of the Republic on Negroes, as Citi- 
zens and as Soldiers, 1862, p. 51 et seq. 

2 EUiot's Debates, UI, 277. " Appendix A, pp. 359-361. 


they empowered the owner, his agent or attorney, to seize the 
fugitive and take him before a United States circuit or dis- 
trict judge within the state where the arrest was made, or 
before any local magistrate within the county in which the 
seizure occurred. The oral testimony of the claimant, or an 
affidavit from a magistrate in the state from which he came, 
must certify that the fugitive owed service as claimed. Upon 
such showing the claimant secured his warrant for removing 
the runaway to the state or territory from which he had fled. 
Five hundred dollars fine constituted the penalty for hinder- 
ing arrest, or for rescuing or harboring the fugitive after 
notice that he or she was a fugitive from labor. 

All the evidence goes to show that this law was ineffec- 
tual ; Mrs. McDougall points out that two cases of resistance 
to the principle of the act occurred before the close of 1793.^ 
Attempts at amendment were made in Congress as early as 
the winter of 1796, and were repeated at irregular intervals 
down to 1850. Secret or " underground " methods of rescue 
were already well understood in and around Philadelphia by 
1804. Ohio and Pennsylvania, and perhaps other states, 
heeded the complaints of neighboring slave states, and gave 
what force they might to the law of 1793 by enacting laws 
for the recovery of fugitives within their borders. The law 
of Pennsylvania for this purpose was passed the same year in 
which Mr. Clay, then Secretary of State, began negotiations 
with England looking toward the extradition of slaves from 
Canada (1826) ; but it was quashed by the decision of the 
United States Supreme Court in the Prigg case in 1842.^ By 
1850 the Northern states were traversed by numerous lines 
of Underground Railroad, and the South was declaring its 
losses of slave property to be enormous. 

The result of the frequent transgressions of the Fugitive 
Slave Law on the one hand and of the clamorous demand for 
a measure adequate to the needs of the South on the other, 
was the passage of a new Fugitive Recovery Bill in 1850.^ The 

1 Fugitive Slaves, p. 19. 

2 See Chap. IX, pp. 259-267 ; also Stroud, Sketch of the Laws Belating 
to Slavery in the Several States, 2d ed., pp. 220-222. 

Appendix A, pp. 361-366. 


increased rigor of the provisions of this act was ill adapted 
to generate the respect that a good law secures, and, indeed, 
must have in order to be enforced. The law contained feat- 
ures sufficiently objectionable to make many converts to the 
cause of the abolitionists ; and a systematic evasion of the 
law was regarded as an imperative duty by thousands. The 
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was based on the earlier law, but 
was fitted out with a number of clauses, dictated by a self- 
interest on the part of the South that ignored the rights of 
every party save those of the master. Under the regulations 
of the act the/certificate authorizing the arrest and removal 
of a fugitive slave was to be granted to the claimant by the 
United States commissioner, the courts, or the judge of the 
proper circuit, district, or county. If the arrest were made 
without process, the claimant was to take the fugitive forth- 
with before the commissioner or other official, and there the 
case was to be determined in a summary manner. The 
refusal of a United States marshal or his deputies to execute 
a commissioner's certificate, properly directed, involved a 
fine of one thousand dollars ; and failure to prevent the es- 
cape of the negro after arrest, made the marshal liable, on 
his official bond, for the value of the slave. When necessary 
to insure a faithful observance of the fugitive slave clause in 
the Constitution, the commissioners, or persons appointed by 
them, had the authority to summon the posse comitatus of 
the county, and " all good citizens " were " commanded to 
aid and assist in the prompt and efficient execution " of the 
law. The testimony of the alleged fugitive could not be re- 
ceived in evidence. Ownership was determined by the sim- 
ple affidavit of the person claiming the slave ; and when 
determined it was shielded by the certificate of the commis- 
sioner from " all molestation ... by anj"- process issued by 
any court, judge, magistrate, or other person whomsoever." 
Any act meant to obstruct the claimant in his arrest of the 
fugitive, or any attempt to rescue, harbor, or conceal the fugi- 
tive, laid the person interfering liable " to a fine not exceed- 
ing one thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding 
six months," also liable for " civil damages to the party in- 
jured in the sum of one thousand dollars for each fugitive so 


lost." In all cases where the proceedings took place befoi 
a commissioner he was " entitled to a fee of ten dollars i 
full for his services," provided that a warrant for the fug 
tive's arrest was issued ; if, however, the fugitive was di 
charged, the commissioner was entitled to five dollars onlyj 
By the abolitionists, at whom it was directed, tliis law wj 
detested. A government, whose first national manifesto coi 
tained the exalted principles enshrined in the Declaration ( 
Independence, stooping to the task of slave-catching, violate 
all their ideas of national dignity, decency and consistenc] 
Many persons, indeed, justified their opposition to the law i 
the familiar words: "We hold these truths to be self-eviden 
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed b 
their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that amon 
these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Th 
scriptural injunction " not to deliver unto his master th 
servant that hath escaped," ^ was also frequently quoted b 
men whose religious convictions admitted of no compromisf 
They pointed out that the law virtually made all Norther 
citizens accomplices in what they denominated the crime c 
slave-catching ; that it denied the right of trial by jury, resi 
ing the question of lifelong- liberty on ex-parte evidence 
made ineffective the writ of habeas corpus; and offered 
bribe to the commissioner for a decision against the negro 
The penalties of fine and imprisonment for offenders agains 
the law were severe, but they had no deterrent effect upo 
those engaged in helping slaves to Canada. On the contrary 
the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 stimulated the work of secre 
emancipation. " The passage of the new law," says a recen 
investigator, " probably increased the number of anti-slaver 
people more than anything else that had occurred during th 
whole agitation. Many of those formerly indifferent wei 
roused to active opposition by a sense of the injustice of th 
Fugitive Slave Act as they saw it executed in Boston an 

1 Statutes at Large, IX, 462-465. 

2 Deut. xxiii, 15, 16. 

" See Some Becollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict, by S. J. May, p. 3'. 
et seq. ; Stroud's Sketch of the Laws Relating to Slavery in the Several State 
2d ed., 1856, pp. 271-280 ;■ "Wilson, History of the Bise and Fall of the Sla 
Power, Vol. II, pp. 304-322. 


elsewhere. ... As Mr. James Freeman Clarke has said, ' It 
was impossible to convince the people that it was right to 
send back to slavery men who were so desirous of freedom 
as to run such risks. All education from boyhood up to 
manhood had taught us to believe that it was the duty of all 
men to struggle for freedom.' "^ 

The desire for freedom was in the mind of nearly every en- 
slaved negro. Liberty was the subject of the dreams and 
visions of slave preachers and sibyls ; it was the object of 
their prayers. The plaintive songs of the enslaved race were 
full of the thought of freedom. It has been well said that 
" one of the finest touches in Uncle Tom's Cabin is the joyful 
expression of Uncle Tom when told by his good and indul- 
gent master that he should be set free and sent back to his 
old home in Kentucky. In attributing the common desire of 
humanity to the negro the author was as true as she was 
effective." ^ To slaves living in the vicinity, Mexico and 
Florida early afforded a welcome refuge. Forests, islands 
and swamps within the Southern states were favorite places 
of resort for runaways. The Great Dismal Swamp became 
the abode of a large colony of these refugees, whose lives 
were spent in its dark recesses, and whose families were 
reared and buried there. Even in this retreat, however, the 
negroes were not beyond molestation, for they were systemat- 
ically hunted by men with dogs and guns.^ Scraps of in- 
formation about Canada and the Northern states were gleaned 
and treasured by minds recognizing their own degradation, 
but scarcely knowing how to take the first step towards the 
betterment of their condition. 

There can be no doubt that the form in which slavery ex- 
isted in the South during the opening decade of the present 
century was comparatively mild ; but it is quite clear that it 
soon exchanged this character for one from which the amen- 

1 M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 43 ; J. F. Clarke, Anti-Slavery 
Days, p. 92. 

2 Rhodes, History of the United States, Vol. I, p. 377. 

« F. L. Olmsted, Journey in the Back Country, p. 155 ; Rev. W. M. 
Mitchell, The Underground Bailroad, pp. 72, 73 ; M. G. McDougall, Fugi- 
tive Slaves, p. 57. 


ities of the patriarchal type had practically disappear' 
With the rapid expansion of the industries peculiar to 
South after the opening up of the Louisiana purchase, 
invention of the cotton gin, and the removal of the Indii 
from the Gulf states, came the era of the slave's dismay. 1 
auction block and the brutal overseer became his dread wl 
awake, his nightmare when asleep. That his fears were j 
ill founded is proved by the activity of the slave-marts 
Baltimore, Richmond, New Orleans and Washington fr 
the time of the migrations to the Mississippi territory ui 
the War. Alabama is said to have bought millions of doll 
worth of slaves from the border states up to 184:9. Dew 
timated that six thousand slaves were carried from Virgii 
though not all of these were sold to other states.^ 

The fear of sale to the far South must have stimulai 
slaves to flight. That the number of escapes did increase 
deduced from the consensus of abolitionist testimony. C 
sole reliance is upon this testimony until the appearance 
the United States census reports for 1850 and 1860;^ a 
the exhibits on fugitive slaves in these compendiums we i 
constrained by various considerations to regard as inadequa 
However, the flight of slaves from the South was not w] 
the new conditions would readily account for. We m 
conclude, therefore, that the deterring effect of ignorai 
and the sense of the difficulties in the way we»e reenforc 
after 1840 by increased vigilance on the part of the sla 
owning class, owing to the rise in value of slave proper 
" Since 1840," says a careful observer, " the high price 
slaves may be supposed ... to have increased the vigilai 
and energy with which the recapture of fugitives is foUov 
up, and to have augmented the number of free negroes 
duced to slavery by kidnappers. Indeed it has led t( 
proposition being quite seriously entertained in Virginia, 
enslaving the whole body of the free negroes in that state 
legislative enactment." ^ Then, too, the negro's attachm 

^ Edward Ingle, /Southern Side-TJghCs, p. 293. 

2 Tliese reports will be dealt with in aiiotlier connection. See Chap 
pp. 342, 343. 

3 G. M. Weston, Progress of Slavery in the United States, Washing 
D.C., 1858, pp. 22, 23. 

Vol.111. N6.VW. ' J17L\M837 

TWs picture of apoor fugitive is fronj one of the stereotypy cuts irjauufactured 
in ttus city for the southern maiket, and used on liandbills otrering rewards fir 
runaway slaves. , i , ■» , 


(Slightly enlarged from TKq Anti-Sla'Dery Record, published in New York City by the Araencan 
Anti-Slavery Society.) 


to the land of his birth, and to his kindred, when these were 
not torn from him, must be allowed to have hindered flight 
in many instances ; when, however, the appearance of the 
dreaded slave-dealer, or the brutality of the overseer or the 
master, spread dismay among the hands of a plantation, flights 
were likely to follow. This was sometimes the case, too, 
when by the death of a planter the division of his property 
among his heirs was made necessary. William Johnson, of 
Windsor, Ontario, ran away from his Kentucky master 
because he was threatened with being sent South to the 
cotton and rice fields.^ Horace Washington, of Windsor, 
after working nearly two years for a man that had a claim on 
him for one hundred and twenty-five dollars, reminded his 
employer that the original agreement required but one year's 
labor, and asked for release. Getting no satisfaction, and 
fearing sale, he fled to Canada.^ Lewis Richardson, one of 
the slaves of Henry Clay, sought relief in flight after receiv- 
ing a hundred and fifty stripes from Mr. Clay's overseer.^ 
William Edwards, of Amherstburg, Ontario, left his master 
on account "of a severe flogging.* One of the station-keepers 
of an underground line in Morgan County, Ohio, recalls an 
instance of a family of seven fugitives giving as the cause of 
their flight the death of their master, and the expected scat- 
tering of their number when the division of the estate should 

It has already been remarked that slaves began to find their 
way to Canada before the opening of the present century, but 
information in regard to that country as a place of refuge can 
scarcely be said to have come into circulation before the War 
of 1812. The hostile relations existing between the two nations 
at that time caused negroes of sagacious minds to seek their 
liberty among the enemies of the United States.® Then, too, 
soldiers returning from the War to their homes in Kentucky 

1 Conversation with "William Johnson, "Windsor, Ontario, July, 1895. 

2 Conversation with Horace "Washington, Windsor, Ontario, Aug. 2, 1895. 
s The Liberator, April 10, 1846. 

* Conversation with William Edwards, Amhersthurg, Ontario, Aug. .3, 

6 Letter of H. C. Harvey, Manchester, Kan. , Jan. 16, 1893. 

6 S. G. Howe, The Befugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 11, 12. 


and Virginia brought the news of the disposition of the Cana- 
dian government to defend the rights of the self-emiuicipated 
slaves under its jurisdiction. Rumors of this sort gave hope 
and courage to the blacks that heard it, and, doubtless, the 
welcome reports were spread by these among trusted compan- 
ions and friends. By 1815 fugitives were crossing the West- 
ern Reserve in Ohio, and regular stations of the Underground 
Railroad were lending them assistance in that and other por- 
tions of the state.^ 

After the discovery of Canada by colored refugees from the 
Southern states, it was, presumably, not long before some of 
them, returning for their families and friends, gave circulation 
in a limited way to reports more substantial than the vague 
rumors hitherto afloat. Among the escaped slaves that carried 
the promise of Canadian liberty across Mason and Dixon's line 
were such successful abductors as Josiah Henson and Harriet 
Tubman. In 1860 it was estimated that the number of ne- 
groes that journeyed annually from Canada to the slave states 
to rescue their fellows was about five hundred. It was said 
that these persons " carried the Underground Railroad and the 
Underground Telegraph into nearly every Southern state." ^ 
The work done by these fugitives was supplemented by the 
cautious dissemination of news by white persons that went 
into the South to abduct slaves or encourage them to escape, 
or while engaged there in legitimate occupations used their 
opportunities to pass the helpful word or to afford more sub- 
stantial aid. The Rev. Calvin Fairbank, the Rev. Charles T. 
Torrey and Dr. Alexander M. Ross may be cited as notable 
examples of this class. The latter, a citizen of Canada, made 
extensive tours through various slave states for the express 
purpose of spreading information about Canada and the routes 
by which that country could be reached. He made trips into 
Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, and did not 
think it too great a risk to make excursions into the more 
southern states. He went to New Orleans, and from that 
point set out on a journey, in the course of which he visited 

» Wilson, History of the Bise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. II, p. 63. 
» Redpath, The Public Life of Captain John Brown, p. 229. 


Vicksburg, Selma and Columbus, Mississippi, Augusta, Geor- 
gia, and Charleston, South Carolina.^ 

Considering the comparative freedom of movement between 
the slave and the free states along the border, it is easy to 
understand how slaves in Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky and 
Missouri might pick up information about the " Land of 
Promise " to the northward. Isaac White, a slave of Kanawha 
County, Virginia, was shown a map and instructed how to get 
to Canada by a man from Cleveland, Ohio. Allen Sidney, a 
negro who ran a steamboat on the Tennessee River for his 
master, first learned of Canada from an abolitionist at Florence, 
Alabama.^ Until the contest over the peculiar institution had 
become heated, it was not an uncommon thing for slaves to be 
sent on errands, or even hired out to residents of the border 
counties of the free states. Notwithstanding Ohio's political 
antagonism to slavery from the beginning, there was a " tacit 
tolerance " of slavery by the people of the state down to about 
1835 ; and " numbers of slaves, as many as two thousand it was 
sometimes supposed, were hired . . . from Virginia and Ken- 
tucky, chiefly by farmers." Doubtless such persons heard 
more or less about Canada, and when the agitation against 
slavery became vehement, they were approached by friends, 
and many were induced to accept transportation to the Queen's 

Depredations of this sort caused alarm among slaveholders. 
They sought to deter their chattels from flight by talking 
freely before them about the rigors of the climate and the 
poverty of the soil of Canada. Such talk was wasted on the 
slaves, who were shrewd enough to discern the real meaning 
of their masters. They were alert to gather all that was said, 
and interpret it in the light of rumors from other sources. 
Thus, masters themselves became disseminators of information 

1 Dr. A. M. Ross, Recollections and Experiences of an Abolitionist, 2d ed., 
1876, pp. 10, 11, 15, 39. 

2 Conversation with White and Sidney in Canada West, August, 1895. 

' Eufus King, Ohio, in American Commonwealths, pp. 364, 365, relates 
that some of these slaves were discharged from servitude " by writs of habeas 
corpus procured in their names," and that "numbers were abducted from 
the slave states and concealed, or smuggled by the 'Underground Rail- 
road' into Canada." 


they meant to withliold. In this and other ways the slaves of 
the border states heard of Canada. The sale of some of these 
slaves to the South helps to explain the knowledge of Canada 
possessed by many blacks in those distant parts. When Mr. 
Ross visited Vicksburg, Mississippi, he found that " many of 
these negroes had heard of Canada from the negroes brought 
from Virginia and the border slave states ; but the impression 
they bad was that, Canada being so far away, it would be 
useless to try to reach it." ^ Notwithstanding the distance, 
the number of successful escapes from the interior as well as 
from the border slave states seems to have been sufficient to 
arouse the suspicion in the minds of Southerners that a secret 
organization of abolitionists had agents at work in the South 
running olf slaves. This suspicion was brought to light dur- 
ing the trial of Richard Dillingham in Tennessee in 1849.^ 
The labors of Mr. Ross several years later gave color to the 
same notion. These facts help to explain the insistence of 
the lower Southern states on the passage and strict enforce- 
ment of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850. 

With the growth of a thing so unfavored as was the Un- 
derground Road, local conditions must have a great deal to 
do. The characteristics of small and scattered localities, 
and even of isolated families, are of the first importance in 
the consideration' of a movement such as this. These little 
communities were in general the elements out of which the 
underground system built itself up. The sources of the con- 
victions and confidences that knitted these communities 
together in defiance of what they considered unjust law can 
only be learned by the study of local conditions. The ii> 
corporation in the Constitution of the compromises concern- 
ing slavery doubtless quieted the consciences of many of the 
early friends of universal liberty. It was only natural, how- 
ever, that there should be some that would hold such con- 
cessions to be sinful, and in violation of the principles asserted 
in the Declaration of Independence and in the very Preamble 
of the Constitution itself. These persons would cling tena- 

1 Dr. A. M. Ross, The Recollections and Experiences of an Abolitionist, 
p. 38. 

2 A. L. Benedict, Memoir of Richard Dillingham, p. 17. 


ciously to their -views, and would aid a fugitive slave when- 
ever one would ask protection and help. It is not strange 
that representatives of this class should be found more fre- 
quently among the Quakers than any other sect. In south- 
eastern Pennsylvania and in New Jersey the work of helping 
slaves to escape was, for the most part, in the hands of 
Quakers from the beginning. This was true also of Wil- 
mington, Delaware, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Valley 
Falls, Rhode Island, as of a number of important centres in 
western Pennsylvania, and eastern, central and southwestern 
Ohio, in eastern Indiana, in southern ilichigan and in eastern 

Anti-slavery views prevailed against the first attempts at 
enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 in Massa- 
chusetts, and spread to other localities in the New England 
states. When the tide of emigration to the Western states 
set in, settlers from New England were given more frequent 
occasions to put their principles into practice in their new 
homes than they had known in the seaboard region. The 
western portions of New York and Pennsylvania, as well as 
the neighboring section of Ohio, called the Western Reserve, 
are dotted over with communities where negroes learned the 
meaning of Yankee hospitality. Like Joshua R. Giddings, 
the people of these communities claimed to have borrowed 
their abolition sentiments from the writings of Jefferson, 
whose " abolition tract," Giddings said, " was called the Dec- 
laration of Independence." ^ In northern Illinois there were 
many centres of the New England type, though, of course, 
not all the underground stations in that region were kept by 
New Englanders. 

In a few neighborhoods settlers from the Southern states 
were helpers. These persons had left the South on account 
of slavery ; they preferred to raise their families away from 
influences they felt to be harmful ; and they pitied the slave. 
It was easy for them to give shelter to the self-freed negro. 
/in south central Ohio, in a district of fo\ir or five counties 
locally known as the old Ghillicothe Presbytery, a number of 
the early preachers were anti-slavery men from the Southern 
1 George W. Julian, Life of Joshua B. Giddings, p. 157. 


states. Among the number were John Rankin, of Ripley, 
James Gilliland, of Red Oak, Jesse Lockhart, of Russellville, 
Robert B. Dobbins, of Sardinia, Samuel Crothers, of Green- 
field, Hugh S. Fullerton, of Ghillicothe, and William Dickey, 
of Ross or Fayette County. The Presbyterian churches 
over which these men presided became centres of opposition 
to slavery, and fugitives finding their way into the vicinity 
of any one of them were likely to receive the needed help.V 
The stations in Bond, Putnam and Bureau counties, Illinois, 
were kept in part by anti-slavery settlers from the South. 

It is a fact worthy of record in this connection that the 
teachings of the two sects, the Scotch Covenanters and the 
Wesleyan Methodists, did not exclude the negro from the bonds 
of Christian brotherhood, and where churches of either de- 
nomination existed the Road was likely to be found in active 
operation. Within the borders of Logan County, Ohio, there 
were a number of Covenanter homes that received fugitives ; 
and in southern Illinois, between the towns of Chester and 
Centralia, there was a series of such hospitable places. 
There were several Wesleyan Methodist stations in Harrison 
County, Ohio, and with these were intermixed a few of the 
Covenanter denomination. 

It was natural that negro settlements in the free states 
should be resorted to by fugitive slaves. The colored people 
of Greenwich, New Jersey, the Stewart Settlement of Jack- 
son County, Ohio, the Upper and Lower Camps, Brown 
County, Ohio, and the Colored Settlement, Hamilton County, 
Indiana, were active. The list of towns and cities in which 
negroes became coworkers with white persons in harboring 
and concealing runaways is a long one. Oberlin, Ports- 
mouth and Cincinnati, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, Philadel- 
phia, Pennsylvania, and Boston, Massachusetts, will suffice 
as examples. 

The principles and experience gained by a number of stu- 

1 History of Brown County, Ohio, p. 313 et seq. Also letter of Dr. Isaac 
M. Beck, Sardinia, O., Dec. 26, 1892. Mr. Beck was born in 1807, and 
knew personally the clergymen named. He joined tlie abolition movement 
in 18.35. His excellent letter is verified in various points by other corre- 


dents while attending college in Oberlin did not come amiss 
later when these young men established themselves in Iowa. 
Professor L. F. Parker, after describing what was probably 
the longest line of travel through Iowa for escaped slaves, 
says : " Along this line Quakers and Oberlin students were 
the chief namable groups whose houses were open to such 
travellers more certainly than to white men," ^ and the R»v. 
William M. Brooks, a graduate of Oberlin, until recently 
President of Tabor College, writes: "The stations ... in 
southwestern Iowa were in the region of Civil Bend, where 
the colony from Oberlin, Ohio, settled which afterwards 
settled Tabor." 2 

The origin of the Underground Road dates farther back 
than is generally known ; though, to be sure, the different 
divisions of the Road were not contemporary in development. 
Two letters of George Washington, written in 1786, give the 
first reports, as yet known, of systematic efforts for the aid 
and protection of fugitive slaves. One of these letters bears 
the date May 12, and the other, November 20. In the 
former, Washington speaks of the slave of a certain Mr. 
Dalby residing at Alexandria, who has escaped to Philadel- 
phia, and " whom a society of Quakers in the city, formed 
for such purposes, have attempted to liberate."^ In the 
latter he writes of a slave whom he sent " under the care of 
a trusty overseer" to the Hon. William Drayton, but who 
afterwards escaped. He says : " The gentleman to whose 
care I sent him has promised every endeavor to apprehend 
him, but it is not easy to do this, when there are numbers 
who would rather facilitate the escape of slaves than appre- 
hend them when runaways." * The difficulties attending the 
pursuit of the Drayton slave, like those in the other case 
mentioned, seem to have been associated in Washington's 
mind with the procedure of certain citizens of Pennsylvania; 
it is quite possible that he was again referring to the Quaker 


• Letter from Professor L. F. Parker, Grinnell, Iowa, Aug. 30, 1894. 
" Letter from President W. M. Brooks, Tabor, Iowa, Oct. 11, 1894. 

» Sparks's Washington, IX, 158, quoted in Quakers of Fennsylvania, by 
Dr. A. C. Applegar,th, Johns Hopkins Studies, X, p. 463. 

* Lunt, Origin of the Late War, Vol. I, p. 20. 


society in Philadelphia. However that may be, it appears 
probable that the record of Philadelphia as a centre of active 
sympathy with the fugitive slave was continuous from the 
time of Washington's letters. In 1787 Isaac T. Hopper, 
who soon became known as a friend of slaves, settled in 
Philadelphia, and, although only sixteen or seventeen years 
old, had already taken a resolution to befriend the oppressed 
Africans.^ Some cases of kidnapping that occurred in Co- 
lumbia, Pennsylvania, in 1804, stirred the citizens of that 
town to intervention in the runaways' behalf; and the move- 
ment seems to have spread rapidly among the Quakers of 
Chester, Lancaster, York, Montgomery, Berks and Bucks 
counties.2 New Jersey was probably not behind southeast- 
ern Pennsylvania in point of time in Underground Railroad 
work. This is to be inferred from the fact that the adjacent 
parts of the two states were largely settled by people of a 
sect distinctly opposed to slavery, and were knitted together 
by those ties of blood that are known to have been favorable 
in other quarters to the development of underground routes. 
That protection was given to fugitives early in the present 
century by the Quakers of southwestern New Jersey can 
scarcely be doubted ; and we are told that negroes were 
being transported through New Jersey before 1818.^ New 
York was closely allied with the New Jersey and Philadel- 
phia centres as far back as our meagre records will permit us 
to go. Isaac T. Hopper, who had grown familiar with un- 
derground methods of procedure in Philadelphia, moved to 
New York in 1829. No doubt his philanthropic arts were 
soon made use of there, for in 1835 we find him accused, 

1 L. Maria Child, Life of Isaac T. Hopper, 1854, p. 35. 

2 History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, R. C. Smedley's article on the 
"Underground Railroad," p. 426; also Smedley, Underground Bailroad, 
p. 26. 

8 The Rev. Thomas C. Oliver, born and raised in Salem, N.J., says that 
the work of the Underground Railroad was going on before he was horn, 
(1818) and continued until the time of the War. Mr. Oliver was raised in 
the family of Thomas Clement, a member of the Society of Friends. He 
graduated from the Prhiceton Theological Seminary in 1856. As a youth he 
began to take part in rescues. Although seventy-five years old when visited 
by the author, he was vigorous in body and mind, and seemed to have a 
remarkably clear memory. 


though falsely this time, of harboring a runaway at his store 
in Pearl Street.^ Frederick Douglass mentions the assistance 
rendered by Mr. Hopper to fugitives in New York; and 
says that he himself received aid from David Ruggles, a 
colored man and coworker with tlie venerable Quaker .^ 
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, New 
York City became more active tlian ever in receiving and 
forwarding refugees.^ This city at the mouth of the Hud- 
son was the entrep6t for a line of travel by way of Albany, 
Syracuse and Rochester to Canada, and for another line di- 
verging at Albany, and extending by the way of Troy to the 
New England states and Canada ; and these routes appear 
to have been used at an early date. The Elmira route, 
which connected Philadelphia with Niagara Falls by way of 
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was made use of from about 1850 
to 1860. Its comparatively late development is explained 
by the fact that one of its principal agents was a fugitive 
slave, John W. Jones, who did not settle in Elmira until 
1844, and that the line of the Northern Central Railroad was 
not completed until about 1850.* In western New York 
fugitives began to arrive from the neighboring parts of Penn- 
sylvania and Ohio between 1835 and 1840, if not earlier. 
Professor Edward Orton recalls that in 1838, soon after his 
father moved to Buffalo, two sleigh-loads of negroes from 
the Western Reserve were brought to the house in the 
night-time ; ^ and Mr. Frederick Nicholson, of Warsaw, New 
York, states that the underground work in his vicinity began 
in 1840. From this time on there was apparently no cessa- 

1 L. Maria Child, Life of Isaac T. Hopper, p. 316. 

^History of Florence, llass., p. 131, Charles A. Shefleld, Editor. 

3 The Underground Road was active in Xew York City at a much earlier 
date certainly than Lossing gives. He says, " After the Fugitive Slave Lavf, 
the Underground Railroad was established, and the city of New York became 
one of the most important stations on the road." History of New York, 
Vol. n, p. 655. 

* Letter of Mrs. Susan L. Crane, Elmira, Sept. 14, 1896. Mrs. Crane's 
father, Mr. Jervis Langdon, was active in underground work at Elmira, and 
had a trusted co-laborer in John W. Jones, who still lives in Elmira. 

^ Conversation with Professor Orton, Ohio State University, Columbus, O., 


tion of migrations of fugitives into Canada at Black Rock, 
Buffalo and other points.^ 

The remoteness of New England from the slave states did 
not prevent its sharing in the business of helping blacks to 
Canada. In Vermont, which seems to have received fugitives 
from the Troy line of eastern New York, the period of activ- 
ity began " in the latter part of the twenties of this century, 
and lasted till the time of the Rebellion." ^ In New Hamp- 
shire there was a station at Canaan after 1830, and probably 
before that time.^ The Hon. Mellen Chamberlain, of Chelsea, 
Massachusetts, personally conducted a fugitive on two occa- 
sions from Concord, New Hampshire, to his uncle's at Canter- 
bury, in the same state " most probably in 1838 or 1839." * 
This thing once begun in New Hampshire seems to have con- 
tinued steadily during the decades until the War of the Re- 
bellion.^ As regards Connecticut the Rev. Samuel J. May 
states that as long ago as 1834 slaves were addressed to his 
care while he was living in the eastern part of the state.^ In 
Massachusetts the town of Fall River became an important 
station in 1839.^ New Bedford, Boston, Marblehead, Concord, 
Springfield, Florence and other places in Massachusetts are 
known to have given shelter to fugitives as they travelled 
northward. Mr. Simeon Dodge, of Marblehead, who had per- 

1 For cases of arrivals of escaped slaves over some of the vrestem New 
York branches, see Sketches in the History of the Underground Railroad, by 
Eber M. Pettit, 1879. These sketches were first published in the Fredonia 
Censor, the series closing Nov. 18, 1868. 

2 Letter of Mr. Aldis O. Brainerd, St. Albans, Vt., Oct. 21, 1895. 

' Letter of Mr. Charles E. Lord, Franklin, Pa., July 6, 1896 : " My ma- 
ternal grandfather, James Furber, lived for several years in Canaan, N. H., 
where his house was one of the stations of the Underground Railway. His 
father-in-law, James Harris, who lived in the same house, had been engaged 
in helping fugitive negroes on toward Canada ever since 1830, and probably 
before that time." 

* Letter of Judge Mellen Chamberlain, Chelsea, Mass., Feb. 1, 1896. 

6 Letter of Mr. Thomas P. Cheney, Ashland, N.H., March 30, 1896. 

^ Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 297. 

' Elizabeth Buffum Chace, Anti-Slavery Reminiscences, p. 27. Mrs. 
Chace says: "From the time of the arrival of James Curry at Fall River, 
and his departure for Canada, in 1839, that town became an important station 
on the so-called Underground Railroad." The residence of Mrs. Chace was 
a place of refuge from the year named. 


8onal knowledge of what was going on, recollects that the 
Underground Road was active between 1840 and 1860, and 
his testimony is substantiated by that of a number of other 
persons.^ Doubtless there was underground work going on 
in Massachusetts before this period, but it was probably of a 
less systematic character. In Maine fugitives frequently ob- 
tained help in the early forties. The Rev. O. B. Cheney, 
later President of Bates College, was concerned in a branch 
of the Road running from Portland to Effingham, New Hamp- 
shire, and northward, during the years 1843 to 1845.^ That 
later conditions probably increased the labors of the Maine 
abolitionists appears from the statement of Mr. Brown 
Thurston, of Portland, that he had at one time after the pas- 
sage of the second Fugitive Slave Law the care of thirty 

Considering the geographical situation of Ohio and western 
Pennsylvania, the period of their settlement, and the character 
of many of their pioneers, it is not strange that this work 
should have become established in this region earlier than in 
the other free states along the Ohio River. The years 1815 
to 1817 witnessed, so far as we now know, the origin of under- 
ground lines in both the eastern and western parts of this 
section. Henry Wilson explains this by saying that soldiers 
from Virginia and Kentucky, returning home after the War 
of 1812, carried back the news that there was a land of free- 
dom beyond the lakes. John Sloane, of Ravenna, David Hud- 
son, the founder of the town of Hudson, and Owen Brown, 
the father of John Brown of Osawattomie, were among the 
first of those known to have harbored slaves in the eastern 
part.* Edward Howard, the father of Colonel D. W. H. 
Howard, of Wauseon, and the Ottawa Indians of the village 
of Chief Kinjeino were among the earliest friends of fugitives 

1 Concerning Springfield, Mass. see Mason A. Green's History of Spring- 
field, pp. 470, 471. For the sentiment of New Bedford, see Ellis's History of 
New Bedford, pp. 306, 307. 

2 Letter of the Rev. O. B. Cheney, Pawtuxet, R.I., Apr. 8, 1896. 
» Letter of Mr. Brown Thurston, Portland, Me., Oct. 21, 1895. 

* Wilson, Hise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. II, p. 63 ; Alexander 
Black, The Story of Ohio, see account of the Underground Railroad. 


in the western part.^ At least one case of underground pro- 
cedure is reported to have occurred in central Ohio as early 
as 1812. The report is but one remove from its original 
source, and was given to Mr. Robert McCrory, of Marysville, 
Ohio, by Richard Dixoji, an eye-witness. The alleged run- 
away, seized at Delaware, was unceremoniously taken from 
the custody of his mounted captor when the two reached 
Worthington, and was brought before Colonel James Kil- 
bourne, who served as an official of all work in the village 
he had founded but a few years before. By Mr. Kilbourne's 
decision, the negro was released, and was then sent north 
aboard one of the government wagons engaged at the time in 
carrying military supplies to Sandusky.^ That such action 
was not inconsistent with the character of Colonel Kilbourne 
and his New England associates is evidenced by the fact that 
as an agent for " The Scioto Company," formed in Granby, 
Connecticut, in the winter of 1801-1802, he had delayed the 
purchase of a township in Ohio for settlement until a state 
constitution forbidding slavery should be adopted.^ If now 
the testimony of the oldest surviving abolitionists from the 
different regions of the state be compared, some interest- 
ing results may be found. Job jMuUin, a Quaker of War- 
ren County, in his eighty-ninth year when his statement 
was given, says : " The most active time to my knowledge 
was from 1816 to 1830. . . ." In 1829 Mr. MuUin 
moved off the line with which he had been connected and 
took no further part in the work.* Mr. Eliakim H. Moore, 
for a number of years the treasurer of Ohio University 
at Athens, says that . the work began near Athens during 
1823 and 182-1. " In those years not so many attempted to 
escape as later, from 1845 to 1860." ^ Dr. Thomas Cowgill, 
an aged Quaker of Kennard, Champaign County, recollects 
that the work of the Underground Railroad began in his 

1 Letter of Col. D. W. H. Howard, "Wauseon, O., Aug. 22, 1894. 

2 Conversation wUh Robert McCrory, Maiysville, 0., Sept. 30, 1898. Mr. 
McCrory was educated at Oberlin College, and has an excellent memory. 

8 Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. I, p. 614. 

* Letter from Job MuUin, dictated to his son-in-law, W. H. Newport, at 
Springboro, 0., Sept. 9, 1895. 

* Conversation with Mr. Eliakim H. Moore, Athens, O. 


neighborhood about 1824. The time between 1840 and the 
passage of the Fugitive Slave Law he regards as the period of 
greatest activity within his experience. Joseph Skillgess, a 
colored citizen of Urbana, now seventy-six years old, says that 
it is among his earliest recollections that runaways were en- 
tertained at Dry Run Church, in Ross County .^ William A. 
Johnston, an old resident of Coshocton, testifies : " We had 
such a road here as early as the twenties, I know from tradi- 
tion and personal observation." ^ Mahlon Pickrell, a promi- 
nent Quaker of Logan County, writes : " There was some travel 
on the Underground Railroad as early as 1820, but the period of 
greatest activity in this vicinity was between 1840 and 1850."^ 
Finally, Mr. R. C. Corwin, of Lebanon, writes : " My first recol- 
lection of the business dates back to about 1820, when I remem- 
ber seeing fugitives at my father's house, though I dare say it 
had been going on long before that time. From that time 
until 1840 there was a gradual increase of business. From 
1840 to 1860 might be called the period of greatest activity."* 
Among these aged witnesses, those have been quoted whose 
experience, character and clearness of mind gave weight to 
their words. Mr. Rush R. Sloane, of Sandusky, who made 
some local investigations in northwestern Ohio and published 
the results in 1888, produces some evidence that agrees with 
the testimony just given. He found that, " The first runaway 
slave known as such at Sandusky was there in the fall of the 
year 1820. . . . Judge Jabez Wright, one of the three associate 
judges who held the first term of court in Huron County in 
1815, was among the first white men upon the Firelands to 
aid fugitive slaves ; he never failed when opportunity offered 
to lend a helping hand to the fugitives, secreting them when 
necessary, feeding them when they were hungry, clothing and 
employing them." ^ After reciting a number of instances of 
rescues occurring between 1820 and 1850, Mr. Sloane remarks 

1 Conversation with Joseph Skillgess, Urbana, O., Aug. 14, 1894. 

2 Letter of Wm. A. Johnston, Coshocton, 0., Aug. 23, 1894. 

' Letter of Hannah W. Blackburn, for her father, Mahlon Pickrell, Zanes- 
fleld, 0., March 25, 1893. 

« Letter of R. C. Corwin, Lebanon, 0., Sept. 11, 1895. 
5 The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 34. 


that one of the immediate results of the passage of the second 
Fugitive Slave Law was the increased travel of fugitives 
through the State of Ohio.^ The foregoing items have heen 
brought together to show that there was no break in the busi- 
ness of the Road from the beginning to the end. The death or 
the change of residence of abolitionists may have interrupted 
travel on one or another route, and may even have broken a 
line permanently, but the history of the Underground Railroad 
system in Ohio is continuous. 

In North Carolina underground methods are known to 
have been employed by white persons of respectability as 
early as 1819. We are informed that " Vestal Coffin organ- 
ized the Underground Railroad near the present Guilford 
College in 1819. Addison Coffin, his son, entered its service 
as a conductor in early youth and still survives in hale old 
age. . . . Vestal's cousin, Levi Coffin, became an anti- 
slavery apostle in early youth and continued unflinching to 
the end. His early years were spent in North Carolina, 
whence he helped many slaves to reach the West." ^ Levi 
Coffin removed to Indiana in 1826. Of his own and his 
cousin's activities in behalf of slaves while still a resident of 
North Carolina, Mr. Coffin writes: "Runaway slaves used 
frequently to conceal themselves in the woods and thickets 
of New Garden, waiting opportunities to make their escape 
to the North, and I generally learned their places of conceal- 
ment and rendered them all the service in my power. . . . 
These outlying slaves knew where I lived, and, when re- 
duced to extremity of want or danger, often came to my 
room, in the silence and darkness of the night, to obtain 
food or assistance. In my efforts to aid these fugitives I 
had a zealous coworker in my friend and cousin Vestal 
Coffin, who was then, and continued to the time of his death 
— a few years later — a staunch friend to the slave." ^ When 
Levi Coffin emigrated in 1826 to southeastern Indiana, he 
did not give up his active interest in the fleeing slave, and 
his house at Newport (now Fountain City) became a centre 

1 The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 34 et seq. 

2 Stephen B. Weeks, Southern Quakers and Slavery, p. 242. 
^ Beminiscences of Levi Coffin, 2(i ed., pp. 20, 21. 


at which three distinct lines of Underground Road con- 
verged. It is probable, however, that wayfarers from bond- 
age found aid from pioneer settlers in Indiana before Friend 
Cof&n's arrival. John F. Williams, of Economy, Indiana, 
says that fugitives " commenced coming in 1820," and he 
denominated himself " an agent since 1820," although he 
"never kept a depot till 1852." ^ It is scarcely necessary 
to make a showing of testimony to prove that an expansion 
of routes like that taking place in Ohio and states farther 
east occurred also in Indiana. / 

It is doubtful at what time stations first came to exist in 
Illinois. Mr. H. B. Leeper, an old resident of that state, 
assigns their origin to the years 1819 and 1820, at which 
time a small colony of anti-slavery people from Brown 
County, Ohio, settled in Bond County, southern Illinois. 
Emigrations from this locality to Putnam County, about 
1830, led, he thinks, to the establishment there of a new 
centre for this work. These settlers were persons that had 
left South Carolina on account of slavery, and during their 
residence in Brown County, Ohio, had accepted the aboli- 
tionist views of the Rev. James Gilliland, a Presbyterian 
preacher of Red Oak; and in Illinois they did not shrink 
from putting their principles into practice. This account is 
plausible, and as it is substantiated in certain parts by facts 
from the history of Brown County, Ohio, it may be con- 
sidered probable in those parts that are and must remain 
without corroboration. ' Concerning his father Mr. Leeper 
writes: "John Leeper moved from Marshall County, Ten- 
nessee, to Bond County, Illinois, in 1816. Was a hater of 
slavery. . . . Remained in Bond County until 1823, then 
moved to Jacksonville, Morgan County, and in 1831 to Put- 
nam County, and in 1833 to Bureau County, Illinois. . . . 
My father's house was always a hiding-place for the fugitive 

1 Letter from John F. Williams, Economy, Ind., March 21, 1893. When 
this letter was written, Mr. Williams was eighty -one years old. He was, he 
says, bom in 1812. In 1820 he would have been eight years old. Children 
were sometimes sent to carry food to refugees in hiding, or to do other little 
services with which they could he safely trusted. Such experiences were 
apt to make deep impressions on their young memories. 


from slavery." ^ On the basis of this testimony, and the 
probability in the case, we may believe that the underground 
movement in Illinois dates back, at least, to the time of the 
admission of Illinois into the Union, that is, to 1818. Soon 
after 1835, the movement seems to have become well estab- 
lished, and to have increased in importance with considerable 
rapidity till the War. 

It is a fact worthy of note that the years that witnessed 
the beginnings in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and Illinois 
of this curious method of assailing the slave power, precede 
but slightly those that witnessed the formulation of three 
several bills in Congress designed to strengthen the first 
Fugitive Slave Law. The three measures were drafted dur- 
ing the interval from 1818 to 1822. 

The abolitionist enterprises of the more western states, 
Iowa and Kansas, came too late to be in any way connected 
with the proposal of these bills. The settlement of these 
territories was, of course, considerably behind that of Ohio, 
Indiana and Illinois, but the nearness of the new regions to 
a slaveholding section insured the opportunity for Under- 
ground Railroad work as soon as settlement should begin. 
Professor L. F. Parker, of Tabor College, Iowa, has sketched 
briefly the successive steps in the opening of his state to 
occupancy. "The Black-Hawk Purchase opened the eastern 
edge of Iowa to the depth of 40 or 60 miles to the whites 
in 1833. The strip . . . west of that which included what 
is now Grinnell was not opened to white occupancy till 1843, 
and it was ten years later before the white residents in this 
county numbered 500. Grinnell was settled in 1854, when 
central and western Iowa was merely dotted by a few hamlets 
of white men, and seamed by winding paths along prairie 
ridges and through bridgeless streams." ^ One of the early 
settlers in southeastern Iowa was J. H. B. Armstrong, who 
had been familiar with the midnight appeals of escaping 

1 Letter from H. B. Leeper, Princeton, 111., received Dec. 19, 1895. Mr. 
Leeper is seventy-five years of age. His letter shows a knowledge of the 
localities of which he writes, Bond County in southwestern Illinois, and 
Bureau and Putnam Counties in the central part of the state. 

2 Letter from Professor L. E. Parker, Grinnell, Iowa, Aug. 30, 1894. 


slaves in Fayette County, Ohio. Mr. Armstrong removed 
to the West in 1839, and settled in Lee County, Iowa. His 
proximity to the northeastern boundary of Missouri seems to 
have involved him in Underground Railroad work from the 
start, on the route running to Salem and Denmark. When 
in 1852 Mr. Armstrong moved to Appanoose County, and 
located within four miles of the Missouri line, among a 
number of abolitionists, he found himself even more con- 
cerned with secret projects to help slaves to Canada. The 
lines of travel of fugitive slaves that extended east through- 
out the entire length of Iowa were more or less associated 
with Kansas men and Kansas movements, and their develop- 
ment is, therefore, to be assigned to the time of the outbreak 
of the struggle over Kansas (1854). Residents of Tabor in 
southwestern Iowa, and of Grinnell in central Iowa, agree 
in designating 1854 as the year in which their Underground 
Railroad labors began. The Rev. John Todd, one of the 
founders of the college colony of Tabor, is authority for the 
statement that the first fugitives arrived in the summer of 
1854.1 Professor Parker states that Grinnell was a stopping- 
place for the hunted slave from the time of its founding in 

We may summarize our findings in regard to the expansion 
of the Underground Railroad, then, by saying that it had 
grown into a wide-spread " institution " before the year 1840, 
and in several states it had existed in previous decades. This 
statement coincides with the findings of Dr. Samuel G. Howe 
in Canada, while on a tour of investigation in 1863. He re- 
ports that the arrivals of runaway slaves in the provinces, 
at first rare, increased early in the century ; that some of the 
fugitives, rejoicing in the personal freedom they had gained 
and banishing all fear of the perils they must endure, went 
stealthily back to their former homes and brought away their 
wives and children. The Underground Road was of great 
assistance to these and other escaping slaves, and " hundreds," 

1 Letter from Professor James E. Todd, Vermillion, South Dakota, 
Nov. 6, 1894. Professor Todd is the son of the Rev. John Todd. 

The Tahor Beacon, 1890, 1891, contains a series of reminiscences from the 
pen of the Rev. John Todd. The first of these recounts the first arrival of 
fugitives in July, 1854. , 


says Dr. Howe, " trod this path every year, but they did not 
attract much public attention."^ It does not escape Dr. 
Howe's consideration, however, that the fugitive slaves in 
Canada were soon brought to public notice by the diplomatic 
negotiations between England and the United States during 
the years 1826-1828, the object being, as Mr. Clay, the Secre- 
tary of State, himself declared, "to provide for a growing 
evil." The evidence gathered from surviving abolitionists 
in the states adjacent to the lakes shows an increased activity 
of the Underground Road during the period 1830-1840. The 
reason for flight given by the slave was, in the great majority 
of cases, the same, namely, fear of being sold to the far South. 
It is certainly significant in this connection that the decade 
above mentioned witnessed the removal of the Indians from 
the Gulf states, and, in the words of another contemporary 
observer and reporter, " the consequent opening of new and 
— vast cotton fields."^ The swelling emphasis laid upon the 
value of their escaped slaves by the Southern representatives 
in Congress, and by the South generally, resounded with 
terrific force at length in the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. 
That act did not, as it appears, check or diminish in any way 
the number of underground rescues. In spite of the exhibit 
on fugitive slaves made in the United States census report 
of 1860, which purports to show that the number of escapes 
was about a thousand a year, it is difficult to doubt the con- 
sensus of testimony of many underground agents, to the effect 
that the decade from 1850 to 1860 was the period of the 
Road's greatest activity in all sections of the North.^ 

It is not known when the name " Underground Railroad " 
came to be applied to these secret trails, nor where it was 
first applied to them. According to Mr. Smedley the designa- 
tion came into use among slave-hunters in the neighborhood 
of Columbia soon after the Quakers in southeastern Penn- 

1 S. G. Howe, The Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, 1864, pages 
11, 12. 

2 G. M. Weston, Progress of Slavery in the United States, Washington, 
D.C., 1858, p. 22. 

3 Some conclusions presented in the American Historical Review, April, 
1896, pp. 460-462, are here repeated. 


sylvania began their concerted action in harboring and for- 
warding fugitives. The pursuers seem to have had little 
difficulty in tracking slaves as far as Columbia, but beyond 
that point all trace of them was generally lost. All the 
various methods of detection customary in such cases were 
resorted to, but failed to bring the runaways to view. The 
mystery enshrouding these disappearances completely bewil- 
dered and baffled the slave-owners and their agents, who are 
said to have declared, " there must be an Underground Rail- U-- 
road somewhere." ^ As this work reached considerable de- 
velopment in the district indicated during the first decade 
of this century the account quoted is seen to contain an 
anachronism. Railroads were not known either in England 
or the United States until about 1830, so that the word 
" railroad " could scarcely have received its figurative appli- 
cation as early as Mr. Smedley implies. 

The Hon. Rush R. Sloane, of Sandusky, Ohio, gives the 
following account of the naming of the Road: "In the 
year 1831, a fugitive named Tice Davids came over the line 
and lived just back of Sandusky. He had come direct from 
Ripley, Ohio, where he crossed the Ohio River. . . . 

" When he was running away, his master, a Kentuckian, was 
in close pursuit and pressing him so hard that when the Ohio 
River was reached he had no alternative but to jump in and 
swim across. It took his master some time to secure a skiff, 
in which he and his aid followed the swimming fugitive, 
keeping him in sight until he had landed. Once on shore, 
however, the master could not find him. No one had seen 
him ; and after a long . . . search the disappointed slave-master 
went into Ripley, and when inquired of as to what had be- 
come of his slave, said ... he thought ' the nigger must have 
gone off on an underground road.' The story was repeated 
with a good deal of amusement, and this incident gave the 
name to the line. First the ' Underground Road,' after- ' 
wards ' Underground Railroad.' " ^ A colored man, the Rev. 
W. M. Mitchell, who was for several years a resident of 

1 R. C. Smedley, Underground Bailroad, pp. 34, 35. 
» The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 35. 


southern Ohio, and a friend of fugitives, gives what appears 
to be a version of Mr. Sloane's story.i These anecdotes are 
hardly more than traditions, affording a fair general explana- 
tion of the way in which the Underground Railroad got its 
name; but they cannot be trusted in the details of time, 
place and occasion. Whatever the manner and date of its 
suggestion, the designation was generally accepted as an apt 
title for a mysterious means of transporting fugitive slaves 
to Canada. 

1 The Underground Sailroad, pp. 4, 5. 


(From a recent photograph.) 


Situated on the top o£ a high hill, this initial station was readily found by runaways 
from the Kentucky shore opposite. 

(From a recent photograph.) 



By the enactment of the first Fugitive Slave Law, February 
12, 1793, the aiding of fugitive slaves became a penal offence. 
This measure laid a fine of five hundred dollars upon any one 
harboring escaped slaves, or preventing their arrest. The pro- 
visions of the law were of a character to stimulate resistance to 
its enforcement. The master or his agent was authorized to 
arrest the runaway, wherever found ; to bring him before a 
judge of the circuit or the district court of the United States, 
or before a local magistrate where the capture was made; 
and to receive, on the display of satisfactory proof, a certifi- 
cate operating as a full warrant for taking the prisoner back 
to the state from which he had fled. This summary method 
of disposing of cases involving the high question of human 
liberty was regarded by many persons as unjust ; they freely 
denounced it, and, despite the penalty attached, many violated 
the law. Secrecy was the only safeguard of these persons, 
as it was of those they were attempting to succor; hence 
arose the numerous artifices employed. 

The uniform success of the attempts to evade this first 
Fugitive Slave Law, and doubtless, also, the general indisposi- 
tion of Northern people to take part in the return of refugees 
to their Southern owners, led, as early as in 1823, to negotia- 
tions between Kentucky and the three adjoining states across 
the Ohio. It is unnecessary to trace the history of these 
negotiations, or to point out the statutes in which the legis- 
lative results are recorded. It is notable that sixteen years 
elapsed before the legislature of Ohio passed a law to secure 
the recovery of slave property, and that the new enactment 
remained on the statute books only four years. The pen- 
alties imposed by this law for advising or for enticing a slave 



to leave his master, or for harboring a fugitive, were a fine, 
not to exceed five hundred dollars, and, at the discretion of 
the court, imprisonment not to exceed sixty days. In addi- 
tion, the offender was to be liable in an action at the suit of 
the party injured.^ It can scarcely be supposed that a state 
Fugitive Slave Law like this would otherwise affect persons 
that were already engaged in aiding runaways than to make 
them more certain than ever that their cause was just. 

The loss of slave property sustained by Southern planters 
was not diminished, and the outcry of the South for a more 
rigorous national law on the subject was by no means hushed. 
In 1850 Congress met the case by substituting for the Fugitive 
Slave Act of 1793 the measure called the second Fugitive Slave 
Law. The penalties provided by this law were, of course, 
more severe than those of the act of 1793. Any person hin- 
dering the claimant from arresting the fugitive, or attempting 
the rescue or concealment of the fugitive, became " subject to 
a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisonment 
not exceeding six months," and was liable for " civil damages 
to the party injured by such illegal conduct in the sum of one 
thousand dollars for each fugitive so lost." These provisions 
of the new law only added fresh fuel to the fire. The deter- 
mination to prevent the recovery of escaped slaves by their 
owners spread rapidly among the inhabitants of the free states. 
Many of these persons, who had hitherto refrained from acting 
for or against the fugitive, were provoked into helping defeat 
the action of a law commanding them " to aid and assist in 
the prompt and efficient execution " of a measure that would 
have set them at the miserable business of slave-catching. 
Clay only expressed a wish instead of a fact, when he main- 
tained in 1851 that the law was being executed in Indiana, 
Ohio and other states. Another Southern senator was much 
nearer the truth when he complained of the small number of 
recaptures under the recent act. 

The risk of suffering severe penalties by violating the Fugi- 
tive Slave laws was less wearing, probably, on abolitionists 
than was the social disdain they brought upon themselves by 
acknowledging their principles. During a generation or more 
1 The date of the act is February 26, 1839. 


they were in a minority in many communities, and were forced 
to submit to the taunts and insults of persons that did not 
distinguish between abolition of slavery and fusion of the 
white and the black races. " Black abolitionist," " niggerite," 
" amalgamationist " and " nigger thief " were convenient epi- 
thets in the mouths of pro-slavery champions in many North- 
ern neighborhoods. The statement was not uncommonly 
made about those suspected of harboring slaves, that they 
did so from motives of thrift and gain. It was said that some 
underground helpers made use of the labor of runaways, espe- 
cially in harvest-time, as long as it suited their convenience, 
then on the pretext of danger hurried the negroes off without 
pay. Unreasoning malice alone could concoct so absurd an 
explanation of a philanthropy involving so much cost and 
risk.i Abolitionists were often made uncomfortable in their 
church relations by the uncomplimentary attentions they re- 
ceived, or by the discovery that they were regarded as unwel- 
come disturbers of the household of faith.^ Even the Society 
of Friends is not above the charge of having lost sight, in 
some quarters, of the precepts of Anthony Benezet and John 
Woolman. Uxbridge monthly meeting is known to have dis- 
owned Abby Kelly because she gave anti-slavery lectures.^ 
The church certificate given to Mrs. Elizabeth Buffum Chace 
when she transferred her membership from Swanzey monthly 
meeting to Providence (Rhode Island) monthly meeting was 
without the acknowledgment usually contained in such certi- 
ficates that the bearer " was of orderly life and conversation." * 
A popular Hicksite minister of New York City, in commend- 
ing the fugitive Thomas Hughes for consenting to return South 
vnth his master, said, " I had a thousand times rather be a 
slave, and spend my days with slaveholders, than to dwell in 
companionship with abolitionists." ^ In the Methodist Church 

iSee an article entitled "An Underground Railway," by Eobert W. 
Carroll, of Cincinnati, O., in the Cincinnati Times-Star, Aug. 19, 1890; also 
Smedley, Underground Railroad, p. 182 ; and J. B. Robinson, Pictures of 
Slavery and Anti-Slavery, pp. 293, 294. 

2 Histoi-y of Henry County, Indiana, p. 126 et seq. 

' Elizabeth BufEum Chace, Anti-Slavery Beminiscences, p. 19. 

*76i(!.,p. 18. 

5 Lydia Maria Child, Life of Isaac T. Hopper, pp. 388, 389. 


there came to be such stress of feeling between the abolition- 
ists and the other members, that in many places the former 
withdrew and organized little congregations apart, under the 
denominational name, Wesleyan Methodist. The truth is, 
the mass of the people of the free states were by no means 
abolitionists ; they cherished an intense prejudice against the 
negro, and permitted it to extend to all anti-slavery advocates. 
They were willing to let slavery alone, and desired that others 
should let it alone. In the Western states the character of 
public sentiment is evidenced by the fact that generally the 
political party considered to be most favorable to slavery 
could command a majority, and "black laws" were framed at 
the behest of Southern politicians for the purpose of making 
residence in the Northern states a disagreeable thing for the 

Abolitionists were frequently subjected to espionage ; the 
arrival of a party of colored people at a house after daybreak 
would arouse suspicion and cause the place to be closely 
watched ; a chance meeting with a neighbor in the highway 
would perhaps be the means by which some abolitionists' 
secrets would become known. In such cases it did not always 
follow that the discovery brought ruin upon the head of the 
offender, even when the discoverer was a person of pro-slavery 
views. Nevertheless, accidents of the kind described served 
to fasten the suspicions of a locality upon the offender. Grav- 
ner and Hannah Marsh, Quakers, living near Downington, in 
Chester County, Pennsylvania, became known to their pro- 
slavery neighbors as agents on the Underground Road. These 
neighbors were not disposed to inform against them, although 
one woman, intent on finding out how many slaves they aided 
in a year, with much watching counted sixty .^ The Rev. 
John Cross, a Presbyterian minister living in Elba Township, 
Knox County, Illinois, about the year 1840, had neighbors 
that insisted on his answering to the law for the help he gave 
to some fugitives. Mr. Cross made no secret of his princi- 
ples and accordingly became game for his enemies. One of 
these was Jacob Kightlinger, who observed a wagon-load of 

1 See President Fairohild's pamphlet, The Underground Sailroad. 

2 Smedley, Underground Sailroad, p. 139. 


negroes being taken in the direction of Mr. Cross's house. In- 
vestigation by Mr. Kightlinger and several of his friends proved 
tlieir suspicions to be true, and by their action Mr. Cross was 
indicted for harboring fugitive slaves.^ 

Parties in pursuit of fugitives were compelled to make care- 
ful and often long-continued search to find traces of their way- 
faring chattels. During such missions they were, of course, 
inquisitive and vigilant, and when circumstances seemed to 
warrant it, they set men to watch the premises of the persons 
most suspicioned, and to report any mysterious actions occur- 
ring within the district patrolled. The houses of many noted 
abolitionists along the Ohio River were frequently under the 
surveillance of slave-hunters. It was not a rare thing that 
towns and villages in regions adjacent to the Southern states 
were terrorized by crowds of roughs eager to find the hiding- 
places of slaves, recently missed by masters bent on their re- 
covery. The following extracts from a letter written by Mr. 
William Steel to Mr. David Putnam, Jr., of Point Harmar, 
Ohio, will show the methods practised by slave-hunters when 
in eager pursuit of fugitives : — 

WooDSFiELD, Monroe Co., O. 
Sept. 5, 1843. 
Me. David Putnam, Je. : 

Dear Sir, — I received yours of the 26th tilt, and was very glad 
to hear from it that Stephen Quixot had such good luck in getting 
his family from Virginia, but we began to be very uneasy about 
them as we did not hear from them again until last Saturday, . . . 
we then heard they were on the route leading through Summer- 
field, but that the route from there to Somerton was so closely 
watched both day and night for some time past on account of the . 
human cattle that have lately escaped from Virginia, that they 
could not proceed farther on that route. So we made an arrange- 
ment with the Summerfield friends to meet them on Sunday even- 
ing about ten miles west of this and bring them on to this 
route . . . the abolitionists of the west part of this county have 
had very difiicult work in getting them all off without being caught, 
as the whole of that part of the country has been filled with 
Southern blood hounds upon their track, and some of the aboli- 

1 History of Knox County, HI., pp. 213, 214. Mr. Kightlinger's account 
of this affair is published under his own name. 


tionists' houses have been watched day and night for several days 
in succession. This evening a company of eight Virginia hounds 
passed through this place north on the hunt of some of their two- 
legged chattels. . . . Since writing the above I have understood 
that something near twenty Virginians including the eight above 
mentioned have just passed through town on their way to the 
Somerton neighborhood, but I do not think they will get much in- 
formation about their lost chattels there. . . . 

Yours for the Slave, 

William Steel.^ 

A case that well illustrates the method of search employed 
by pursuing parties is that of the escape of the Nuckolls slaves 
through Iowa, the incidents of which are still vivid in the 
memories of some that witnessed them. Mr. Nuckolls, of 
Nebraska City, Nebraska, lost two slave-girls in December, 
1858. He instituted search for them in Tabor, an abolition- 
ist centre, and did not neglect to guard the crossings of two 
streams in the vicinity. Silver Creek and the Nishnabotna 
River. As the slaves had been promptly despatched to Chi- 
cago, this search availed him nothing. A second and more 
thorough hunt was decided on, and the aid of a score or 
more fellows was secured. These men made entrance into 
houses by force and violence, when bravado failed to gain 
them admission.^ At one house where the remonstrance 
against intrusion was unusually strong the person remonstrat- 
ing was struck over the head and injured for life. The out- 
come of the whole affair was that Mr. Nuckolls had some ten 
thousand dollars to pay in damages and costs, and, after all, 
failed to recover his slaves.* 

Many were the inducements to practise espionage on aboli- 
tionists. Large sums were offered for the capture of fugi- 
tives, and rewards were offered also for the arrest and delivery 

1 The original letter is in the possession of the author of this hook. 

2 The Tahor Beacon, 1890, 1891, Chapter XXI of a series of articles hy 
the Rev. John Todd, on "The Early Settlement and Growth of Western 
Iowa." Mr. Todd was one of the early settlers of western Iowa. The 
letters were received from his son, Professor James E. Todd, of the Uni- 
versity of South Dakota, Vermillion, S. Dak. 

» Letter of Mr. Sturgis Williams, Percival, la. , 1894. Mr. Williams was 
also one of the pioneers of western Iowa. 


south of Mason and Dixon's line of certain abolitionists, 
who were well-enough known to have the hatred of many- 
Southerners. " At an anti-slavery meeting of the citizens of 
Sardinia and vicinity, held on November 21, 1838, a committee 
of respectable citizens presented a report, accompanied with 
affidavits in support of its declarations, stating that for more 
than a year past there had been an unusual degree of hatred 
manifested by the slave-hunters and slaveholders towards the 
abolitionists of Brown County, and that rewards varying from 
1500 to $2,500 had been repeatedly offered by different per- 
sons for the abduction or assassination of the Rev. John B. 
Mahan ; and rewards had also been offered for Amos Petti- 
john, William A. Frazier and Dr. Isaac M. Beck, of Sardinia, 
the Rev. John Rankin and Dr. Alexander Campbell, of Rip- 
ley, William McCoy, of RussellviUe, and citizens of Adams 
County." ^ A resolution was offered in the Maryland Legis- 
lature, in January, 1860, proposing a reward for the arrest of 
Thomas Garrett, of Wilmington, for "stealing" slaves.^ It is 
perhaps an evidence of the extraordinary caution and shrewd- 
ness employed by managers of the Road generally that so 
many of them escaped without suffering the penalties of the 
law or the inflictions of private vengeance. 

Slave-owners occasionally tried to find out the secrets of an 
underground station or of a route by visiting various localities 
in disguise. A Kentucky slaveholder clad in the Friends' 
peculiar garb went to the house of John Charles, a Quaker 
of Richmond, Indiana, and meeting a son of Mr. Charles, 
accosted him with the words, " Well, sir, my little mannie, 
hasn't thee father gone to Canada with some niggers?" 
Young Charles quickly perceived the disguise, and pointing 
his finger at the man declared him to be a " wolf in sheep's 
clothing." 3 About the year 1840 there came into Cass County, 
Indiana, a man from Kentucky by the name of Carpenter, 
who professed to be an anti-slavery lecturer and an agent for 

^ Bistory of Brown County, Ohio, p. 314. 

" The New Beign of Ten-or in the Slaveholding States, for 1859-1860 
{Anti-Slavery Tracts, No. 4, New Series), pp. 49, 50. 

8 Letter of Mrs. Mary C. Thome, Selma, Clark Co., 0., March 3, 1892. 
John Charles was an uncle of Mrs. Thome. 


certain anti-slavery papers. He visited the abolitionists and 
seemed zealous in the cause. In this way he learned the 
whereabouts of seven fugitives that had arrived in the neigh- 
borhood from Kentucky a few weeks before. He sent word 
to their masters, and in due time they were all seized, but had 
not been taken far before the neighborhood was aroused, 
masters and victims were overtaken and carried to the county- 
seat, a trial was procured, and the slaves were again set free. 

Thus the penalties of the law, the contempt of neighbors, 
and the espionage of persons interested in returning fugitives 
to bondage made secrecy necessary in the service of the 
Underground Railroad. 

Night was the only time, of course, in which the fugitive 
and his helpers could feel themselves even partially secure. 
Probably most slaves that started for Canada had learned to 
know the north star, and to many of these superstitious per- 
sons its light seemed the enduring witness of the divine inter- 
est in their deliverance. When clouds obscured the stars 
they had recourse, perhaps, to such bits of homely knowledge 
as, that in forests the trunks of trees are commonly moss- 
grown on their north sides. In Kentucky and western Vir- 
ginia many fugitives were guided to free soil by the tributaries 
of the Ohio ; while in central and eastern Virginia the ranges 
of the Appalachian chain marked the direction to be taken. 
YAfter reaching the initial station of some line of Underground 
Road the fugitive found himself provided with such accom- 
modations for rest and refreshment as circumstances would 
allow ; and after an interval of a day or more he was con- 
veyed, usually in the night, to the house of the next friend. 
Sometimes, however, when a guide was thought to be un- 
necessary the fugitive was sent on foot to the next station, 
full and minute instructions for finding it having been given 
him. The faltering step, and the light, uncertain rapping of 
the fugitive at the door, was quickly recognized by the family 
within, and the stranger was admitted with a welcome at once 
sincere and subdued. There was a suppressed stir in the 
house while the fire was building and food preparing ; and 
after the hunger and chill of the wayfarer had been dispelled, 
he was provided with a bed in some out-of-the-way part of the 


house, or under the hay in the barn loft, according to the 
degree of danger. Often a household was awakened to find 
a company of five or more negroes at the door. The arrival 
of such a company was sometimes announced beforehand by 
special messenger. 

That the amount of time taken from the hours of sleep by 
underground service was no small item may be seen from the 
following record covering the last half of August, 1843. The 
record or memorandum is that of Mr. David Putnam, Jr., of 
Point Harmar, Ohio, and is given with all the abbreviations : 

Aug. 13/43 Sunday Morn. 

2 o'clock arrived 

Sunday Eve. 


' departed for B. 


Wednesday Morn 

. 2 



Sunday eve. 


' departed for N. 

Wife & children 21 

Monday morn. 


arrived from B. 

" eve. 


' left for Mr. H. 


Tuesday " 


' left for W. 

A. L. & S. J. 28 

Monday morn. 


' arrived left 2 o'clock.^ 

This is plainly a schedule of arriving and departing " trains " 
on the Underground Road. It is noticeable that the schedule 
contains no description, numerical or otherwise, of the parties 
coming and going ; nor does it indicate, except by initial, to 
what places or persons the parties were despatched ; further, 
it does not indicate whether Mr. Putnam accompanied them 
or not. It does, however, give us a clue to the amount 
of night service that was done at a station of average activity 
on the Ohio River as early as the year 1843. The demands 
upon operators increased, we know, from this time on till 
1860. The memorandum also shows the variation in the 
length of time during which different companies of fugitives 
were detained at a station; thus, the first fugitive, or com- 
pany of fugitives, as the case may have been, departed on 
the evening of the day of arrival ; the second party was kept 
in concealment from Wednesday morning until the Sunday 
night next following before it was sent on its way ; the third 

1 The original memorandum is written in pencil on a letter received by 
Mr. Putnam from Mr. Jolm Stone, of Belpre, O., in Aug., 1843. The con- 
tents of this letter, or message, is given on page 57. The original is in posses- 
sion of the author. 


party seems to have been divided, one section being forwarded 
the night of the day of arrival, the other the next night fol- 
lowing ; in the case of the last company there seems to have 
existed some especial reason for haste, and we find it hurried 
away at two o'clock in the morning, after only an hour's 
intermission for rest and refreshment. The memorandum of 
night service at the Putnam station may be regarded as fairly 
representative of the night service at many other posts or 
stations throughout Ohio and the adjoining states. 

Much of the communication relating to fugitive slaves was 
had in guarded language. Special signals, whispered conver- 
sations, passwords, messages couched in figurative phrases, 
were the common modes of conveying information about 
underground passengers, or about parties in pursuit of fugi- 
tives. These modes of communication constituted what abo- 
litionists knew as the " grape-vine telegraph." ^ The signals 
employed were of various kinds, and were local in usage. 
Fugitives crossing the Ohio River in the vicinity of Parkers- 
burg, in western Virginia, were sometimes announced at sta- 
tions near the river by their guides by a shrill tremolo-call 
like that of the owl. Colonel John Stone and Mr. David 
Putnam, Jr., of Marietta, Ohio, made frequent use of this sig- 
nal.2 Different neighborhoods had their peculiar combina- 
tions of knocks or raps to be made upon the door or window 
of a station when fugitives were awaiting admission. In 
Harrison County, Ohio, around Cadiz, one of the recognized 
signals was three distinct but subdued knocks. To the in- 

1 The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 20 ; also letter of S. J. Wright, 
Rushville, 0., Aug. 29, 1894, and letter of Ira Thomas, Springboro, 0., Oct. 
29, 1895. 

2 This owl signal was mentioned in conversation with several residents of 
Marietta. Miss Martha Putnam says she has heard her father make the 
"hoot-owl" call huudreds of times. General R. R. Dawes designates this 
call tlie "river signal." "When I was a boy of eight," he says, "I was 
visiting my grandfather, Judge Ephraim Cutler. The place was called Con- 
stitution. Somehow, in the night I was wakened up, and a wagon came 
down over the hill to the river. Then a call was given, a hoot-owl call, and 
this was answered by a similar one from the other side ; then a boat went 
out and brought over the crowd. My mother got out of bed and kneeled 
down and prayed for them, and had me kneel with her." Conversation 
with General Dawes, Marietta, O., Aug. 21, 1892. 



quiry, "Who's there?" the reply- 
was, " A friend with friends." ^ Pass- 
words were used on some sections of 
the Road. The agents at York in 
southeastern Pennsylvania made use 
of them, and William Yokum, a con- 
stable of the town, who was kindly 
disposed towards runaways, was able 
to be most helpful in times of emer- 
gency by his knowledge of the watch- 
words, one of which was "William 
Penn." ^ Messages couched in figura- 
tive language were often sent. The 
following note, written by Mr. John 
Stone, of Belpre, Ohio, in August, 
184S, is a good example : — 

Belpke Friday Morning 
David Putk^am 

Business is aranged for Saturday 
night be on the lookout and if practi- 
cable let a cariage come & meet the eara- 
wan J S' 



Mr. I. Newton Peirce forwarded a 
number of fugitives from Alliance, 
Ohio, to Cleveland, over the Cleve- 
land and Western Railroad. He sent 
with each company a note to a Cleve- 
land merchant, Mr. Joseph Garretson, 
saying : " Please forward immediately 
the U. G. baggage this day sent to 
you. Yours truly, I. N. P."* Mr. 

1 Letter of the Rev. J. B. Lee, Eranldinville, 
N.T., Oct. 21, 1895. 

2 Smedley, Underground Railroad, p. 46. 
s See the facsimile. 

* Letter of I. Newton Peirce, Folcroft, 
Sharon Hill P.O., Delaware Co., Pa., Teh. 1, 


G. W. Weston, of Low Moor, Iowa, was the author of similar 
communications addressed to a friend, Mr. C. B. Campbell, 
of Clinton. 

Low MooE, May 6, 1859. 
Mb. C. B. C, 

Dear Sir : — By to-morrow evening's mail, you will receive two 
volumes of the " Irrepressible Conflict " bound in black. After 
perusal, please forward, and oblige, 

Yours truly, 

G. W. W.^ 

The Hon. Thomas Mitchell, founder of Mitchellville, near 
Des Moines, Iowa, forwarded fugitives to Mr. J. B. Grinnell, 
after whom the town of Grinnell was named. The latter 
gives the following note as a sample of the messages that 
passed between them : — 

Dear Grinnell : — Uncle Tom says if the roads are not too bad 
you can look for those fleeces of wool by to-morrow. Send them 
on to test the market and price, no back charges. 



There were many persons engaged in underground work 
that did not always take the precaution to veil their commu- 
nications. Judge Thomas Lee, of the Western Reserve, was 
one of this class, as the following letter to Mr. Putnam, of 
Point Harmar, will show : — 

Cadiz, Ohio, March 17th, 1847. 
Me. David Putnam, 

Dear Sir: — I understand you are a friend to the poor and 
are willing to obey the heavenly mandate, " Hide the outcasts, 
betray not him that wandereth." Believing this, and at the 
request of Stephen Fairfax (who has been permitted in divine 
providence to enjoy for a few days the kind of liberty which 
Ohio gives to the man of colour), I would be glad if you could 
find out and let me know by letter what are the prospects if any 

''■History of Clinton County, Iowa, article on the "Underground Rail- 
road," pp. 41.3-416. 

2 J. B. Grinnell, Men and Events of Forty Years, p. 217. 


and the probable time when, the balance of the family -will make 
the same eifort to obtain their inalienable right to life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness. Their friends who have gone 
north are very anxious to have them follow, as they think it 
much better to work for eight or ten dollars per month than 
to work for nothing. 

Yours in behalf of the millions of poor, opprest and down- 
trodden in our land. 

Thomas Lee. 

In the conveyance of fugitives from station to station 
there existed all the variety of method one would expect to 
find. In the early days of the Underground Road the fugi- 
tives were generally men. It was scarcely thought neces- 
sary to send a guide with them unless some special reason 
for so doing existed. They were, therefore, commonly given 
such directions as they needed and left to their own devices. 
As the number of refugees increased, and women and chil- 
dren were more frequently seen upon the Road, and pursuit 
was more common, the practice of transporting fugitives on 
horseback, or by vehicle, was introduced. The steam rail- 
road was a new means furnished to abolitionists by the 
progress of the times, and used by them with greater or less 
frequency as circumstances required, and when the safety 
of passengers would not be sacrificed. "~~ 

When fugitive travellers afoot or on horseback found 
themselves pursued, safety lay in flight, unless indeed the 
company was large enough, courageous enough, and suffi- 
ciently well armed to give battle. The safety of fugitives 
while travelling by conveyance lay mainly in their conceal- 
ment, and many were the stratagems employed. /Character- 
istic of the service of the Underground Railroad were the 
covered wagons, closed carriages and deep-bedded farm- 
wagons that hid the passengers. ^ There are those living 
who remember special day-coaches of more peculiar con- 
struction. Abram Allen, a Quaker of Oakland, Clinton 
County, Ohio, had a large three-seated wagon, made for the 
purpose of carrying fugitives. He called it the Liberator. 
It was curtained all around, would hold eight or ten persons, 
and had a mechanism with a bell, invented by Mr. Allen, to 


record the number of miles travelled.^,. A citizen of Troy, 
Ohio, a bookbinder by trade, had a large wagon, built about 
with drawers in such a way as to leave a large hiding-place 
in the centre of the wagon-bed. As the bookbinder drove 
through the country he found opportunity to help many a 
fugitive on his way to Canada.^ ' Horace Holt, of Rutland, 
Meigs County, Ohio, sold reeds to his neighbors in southern 
Ohio. He had a box-bed wagon with a lid that fastened 
with a padlock. In this he hauled his supply of reeds ; it 
was well understood by a few that he also hauled fugitive 
slaves.^ Joseph Sider, of southern Indiana, found his 
pedler wagon well adapted to the transportation of slaves 
from Kentucky plantations.* William Still gives instances 
of negroes being placed in boxes, and shipped as freight by 
boat, and also by rail, to friends in the North. William Box 
Peel Jones was boxed in Baltimore and sent to Philadelphia 
by way of the Ericsson line of steamers, being seventeen hours 
on the way.^ Henry Box Brown had the same thrilling and 
perilous experience. His trip consumed twenty-four hours, 
during which time he was in the care of the Adams Express 
Company in transit from Richmond, Virginia, to Phila- 

Abolitionists that drove wagons or carriages containing 
refugees, " conductors " as they came to be called in the 
terminology of the Railroad service, generally took the pre- 
caution to have ostensible reasons for their journeys. They 
sought to divest their excursions of the air of mystery by 
seeming to be about legitimate business. Hannah Marsh, of 
Chester County, Pennsylvania, was in the habit of taking 

1 Judge R. B. Harlan and others, History of Clinton County, Ohio, pp. 
380-383 ; letter of Seth Linton, Oakland, Clinton County, 0., Sept. 4, 1892 ; 
Smedley, Underground Railroad, p. 187. 

^ The Miami Union, April 10, 1895, article entitled "A Reminiscence of 
Slave Times." 

^ Letter of Mrs. C. Grant, Pomeroy, Meigs Co., O. 

* The Sepublican Leader, March 16, 1894, article, "Reminiscence of the 
Underground Railroad," by E. H. Trueblood. 

^ See Underground Bailroad Becords, pp. 46, 47. 

^ Ibid. , pp. 81-84 ; see also Narrative of Henry Box Brown, who escaped 
from slavery enclosed in a box 3 feet long and S wide, written from a state- 
ment of facts made by himself, 1849, by Charles Stearns. 


garden produce to the Philadelphia markets to sell ; when, 
therefore, she sometimes used her covered market-wagon, 
even in daytime, to convey fugitives, she attracted no atten- 
tion, and made her trips without molestation.^ Calvin Fair- 
bank abducted the Stanton family, father, mother and six 
children, from the neighborhood of Covington, Kentucky, by 
packing them in a load of straw.^ James W. Torrence, of 
Northwood, Ohio, together with some of his neighbors ex- 
ported grain, and sometimes feathers, to Sandusky. These 
products were generally shipped when there were fugitives 
to go with the load. As the distance to Sandusky was a 
hundred and twenty miles, refugees who happened to profit 
by this arrangement were saved much time and no small 
amount of risk in getting to their destination.^ Mr. William 
I. Bowditch, of Boston, used a two-horse carryall on one oc- 
casion to take a single fugitive to Concord.* Mr. John 
Weldon and other abolitionists, of Dwight, Illinois, took 
negroes to Chicago concealed in wagons loaded with sacks of 
bran.^ ''Levi Coffin, of Cincinnati, Ohio, frequently received 
large companies for which safe transportation had to be sup- 
plied. On one occasion a party of twenty-eight negroes ar- 
rived, towards daylight, in the suburbs of Cincinnati, from 
Boone County, Kentucky, and it was necessary to send them 
on at once. Accordingly at Friend Coffin's suggestion a 
number of carriages were procured, formed into a long 
funeral-like procession and started solemnly on the road to 
Cumminsville.® An almost endless array of incidents similar 
to these can be given, but enough have been recited to illus- 
trate the caution that prevailed in the transportation of 
fugitive slaves toward Canada. 

The routes were very far from being straight. They are 
perhaps best described by the word zigzag. The exigencies 

1 Smedley, Underground Bailroad, pp. 138, 139. 

2 The Bev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times, pp. 24, 25 ; see also 
the Chicago Tribune, Jan. 29, 1893, p. 33. 

» Conversation with James W. Torrence, Northwood, Logan Co., O., 
Sept. 22, 1894. 

1 Letter of William I. Bowditch, Boston, Mass., April 5, 1893. 
6 Letter of John Weldon, Dwight, HI., Nov. 7, 1895. 
6 History of Darke County, Ohio, p. 332 et seq. 


that determined in what direction an escaping slave should go 
during any particular part of his journey were, in the nature 
of the case, always local. The ultimate goal was Canada, 
but a safe passage was of greater importance than a quick 
one. When speed would contribute safety the guide would 
make a long trip with his charge, or perhaps resort to the 
steam railroad ; but under ordinary circumstances, in those 
regions where the Underground Railroad was most patron- 
ized, a guide had almost always a choice between two or 
more routes; he could, as seemed best at the time, take the 
right-hand road to one station, or the left-hand road to 
another. In truth, the underground paths in these regions 
formed a great and intricate network, and it was in no small 
measure because the lines forming the meshes of this great 
system converged and branched again at so many stations 
that it was almost an impossibility for slave-hunters to trace 
their negroes through even a single county without finding 
themselves on the wrong trail. It was a common stratagem 
in times of special emergency to switch off travellers from 
one course to another, or to take them back on their track 
and then, after a few days of waiting, send them forward 
again. It is, then, proper to say that zigzag was one of the 
regular devices to blind and throw off pursuit. It served 
moreover to avoid unfriendly localities. It seems probable 
that the circuitous land route from Toledo to Detroit was an 
expedient of this sort, for slave-owners and their agents were 
often known to be on the lookout along the direct thorough- 
fare between the places named. The two routes between 
Millersburgh and Lodi in northern Ohio are explained by 
the statement that the most direct route, the western one, 
fell under suspicion for a while, and in the meantime a 
more circuitous path was followed through Holmesville and 

During the long process by which the slave with the help of 
friends was being transmuted into the freeman he spent much 
of his time in concealment. His progress was made in the 
night-time. When a station was reached he was provided 

1 Letter of Thomas L. Smith, Fredericksburg, Wayne Co., 0., Oct. 6, 


with a hiding-place, and he scarcely left it until his host 
decided it would be safe for him to continue his journey. 
The hiding-places the fugitive entered first and last were as 
dissimilar as can well be imagined. ^'Slaves that crossed the 
Ohio River at Ripley, and fell into the hands of the Rev. 
John Rankin, were often concealed in his barn, which is said 
to have been provided with a secret cellar for use by the 
slaves when pursuers approached. The barn of Deacon Jirch 
Piatt at Mendon, Illinois, was a haven into which many 
slaves from Missouri were piloted by way of Quincy. A 
hazel thicket in Mr. Piatt's pasture-lot was sometimes re- 
sorted to,^ as was one of his hayricks that was hollow and 
had a blind entrance.^ Joshua R. Giddings, the sturdy anti- 
slavery Congressman from the Western Reserve, had an out- 
of-the-way bedroom in one wing of his house at Jefferson, 
Ohio, that was kept in readiness for fugitive slaves.^ The 
attic over the Liberator office in Boston is said to have been 
a rendezvous for such persons.* A station-keeper at Plain- 
field, Illinois, had a woodpile with a room in the centre for 
a hiding-place.® The Rev. J. Porter, pastor of a Congrega- 
tional church at Green Bay, Wisconsin, was asked to furnish 
a place of hiding for a family of fugitives, and at his wife's 
suggestion he put them in the belfry of his church, where 
they remained three days before a vessel came by which 
they could be safely transported to Canada.® Mr. James 
M. Westwater and other citizens of Columbus, Ohio, fitted 
up an old smoke-house standing on Chestnut Street near 
Fourth Street as a station of the Underground Railroad.'^ 
A fugitive reaching Canton, Washington County, Indiana, 
was secreted for a while in a low place in a thick, dark 

1 Letter of J. E. Piatt, Guthrie, Ok., March 28, 1896. Mr. Piatt is a son 
of Deacon Jirch Piatt. 

3 Letter of "William H. Collins, Quincy, HI., Jan. 13, 1896. 

' Conversation with J. Addison Giddings, Jefferson, O. 

* Letter of Lewis Ford, Boston, Mass. See also Beminiscences of Fugitive 
Slave Law Days in Boston, by Austin Bearse, 1880, p. 12. 

6 Letter of John Weldon, Dwight, 111., Jan. 10, 1896. 

" Letter of the Rev. J. E. Roy, Chicago, 111., April 9, 1896. 

' W. G. Deshler and others, Memorial on the Death of James M. West- 
Koter, pp. 14, 15. 


woods; and afterwards in a rail pen covered with straw.^ 
Eli F. Brown, of Amesville, Athens County, Ohio, writes : 
"I built an addition to my house in which I had a room 
with its partition in pannels. One pannel could be raised 
about a half inch and then slid back, so as to permit a man 
to enter the room. When the pannel was in place it 
appeared like its fellows. ... In the abutment of Zanes- 
ville bridge on the Putnam side there was a place of con- 
cealment prepared." ^ " Conductors " Levi Coffin, Edward 
Harwood, and W. H. Brisbane, of Cincinnati, Ohio, had a 
number of hiding-places for slaves. " One was in the dark 
cellar of Coffin's store; another was at Mr. Coffin's out-of- 
the-way residence between Avondale and Walnut Hills; 
another was a dark sub-cellar under the rear part of Dr. 
Bailey's residence, corner of Sixth and College Streets."^ 
The gallery of the old First Church at Galesburg, Illinois, 
was utilized as a place of concealment for refugees by cer- 
tain members of that church.* Gabe N. Johnson, a colored 
man of Ironton, on the Ohio River, sometimes hid fugitives 
in a coal-bank back of his house.* This list of illustrations 
could be almost indefinitely continued. A sufficient number 
has been given to show the ingenuity necessarily used to 
secure safety. 

In the transit from station to station some simple disguise 
was often assumed. Thomas Garrett, a Quaker of Wilming- 
ton, Delaware, kept a quantity of garden tools on hand for 
this purpose. He sometimes gave a man a scythe, rake, or 
some other implement to carry through town. Having 
reached a certain bridge on the way to the next station, the 
pretending laborer concealed his tool under it, as he had been 
directed, and journeyed on. Later the tool was taken back 
to Mr. Garrett's to be used for a similar purpose.® Valentine 
Nicholson, a station-keeper at Harveysburg, Warren County, 

1 Letter of E. H. Trueblood, Hitchcock, Ind. 

2 Letter of B. F. Brown, Amesville, O. 

= Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, Feb. 11, 1894, article by W. Eldebe. 

* Letter of Professor George Churchill, Galesburg, Jan. 29, 1896. 

' Conversation vyith Gabe N. Johnson, Ironton, O., Sept. 30, 1894. 

* Smedley, Underground Railroad, p. 242. 


A shelter for fugitives in Detroit, formerly standing where the Chamber of Commerce 

ISuilding now stands. 


Fugitive slaves were sometimes concealed in the gallery of this church. 

(From a recent photograph.) 


Ohio, concealed tlie identity of a fugitive, a mulatto, who 
was known to be pursued, by blacking his face and hands 
with burnt cork.^ Slight disguises like these were probably 
not used as often as more elaborate ones. The Rev. Calvin 
Fairbank, and John Fairfield, the Virginian, who abducted 
many slaves from the South, resorted frequently to this means 
of securing the safety of their followers. Mr. Fairbank tells 
us that he piloted slave-girls attired in the finery of ladies, 
men and boys tricked out as gentlemen and the servants of 
gentlemen ; and that sometimes he found it necessary to 
require his followers to don the garments of the opposite 
sex.'^ In May, 1843, Mr. Fairbank went to Arkansas for 
the purpose of rescuing William Minnis from bondage. He 
found that the slave was a young man of light complexion 
and prepossessing appearance, and that he closely resembled 
a gentleman living in the vicinity of Little Rock. Minnis 
was, therefore, fitted out with the necessary wig, beard and 
moustache, and clothes like those of his model; he was 
quickly drilled in the deportment of his assumed rank', 
and, as the test proved, he sustained himself well in his part. 
On boarding the boat that was to carry him to freedom he 
discovered his owner, Mr. Brennan, but so effectual was the 
slave's make-up that the master failed to penetrate the 

A similar story is told by Mr. Sidney Speed, of Crawfords- 
ville, Indiana, when recalling the work of his father, John 
Speed, and that of Fisher Doherty. «In 1858 or 1859, a 
mulatto girl about eighteen or twenty years old, very good- 
looking and with some education, . . . reached our home. 
The nigger-catchers became so watchful that she could not 
be moved for several days. In fact, some of them were 
nearly always at the house either on some pretended busi- 
ness or making social visits. I do not think that the house 
was searched, or they would surely have found her, as during 
aU this time she remained in the garret over the old log 
kitchen, where the fugitives were usually kept when there 

1 Letter of Valentine Nicholson, Indianapolis, Ind., Sept. 10, 1892. 
" The Bev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times, p. 10. 
' Ibid., p. 34 et seq. 


was danger. Her owner, a man from New Orleans, had 
just bought her in Louisville, and he had traced her surely 
to this place ; she had not struck the Underground before, but 
had made her way alone this far, and as they got no trace of 
her beyond here they returned and doubled the watches on 
Doherty and my father. But at length a day came, or a 
night rather, when she was led safely out through the gar- 
dens to the house of a colored man named Patterson. There 
she was rigged out in as fine a costume of silk and ribbons 
as it was possible to procure at that time, and was furnished 
with a white baby borrowed for the occasion, and accom- 
panied by one of the Patterson girls as servant and nurse." 
Thus disguised, the lady boarded the train at the station. 
But what must have been her feelings to find her master 
already in the same car; he was setting out to watch 
for her at the end of the line. She kept her courage, and 
when they reached Detroit she went aboard the ferry-boat 
for Canada ; her pretended nurse returned to shore with the 
borrowed baby ; and as the gang-plank was being raised, the 
young slave-woman on the boat removed her veil that she 
might bid her owner good-by. The master's display of 
anger as he gazed at the departing boat was as real as the 
situation was gratifying to his former slave and amusing to 
the bystanders.^ 

John Fairfield, the Virginian, depended largely on dis- 
guises in several of his abducting exploits. At one time he 
was asked by a number of Canadian refugees to help some of 
their relatives to the North, and when he found that many 
of them had very light complexions, he decided to send them 
to Canada disguised as white persons. Having secured for 
them the requisite wigs and powder, he was gratified with 
the' transformation in appearance they were able to effect. 
He therefore secured tickets for his party, and placed them 
aboard a night train for Harrisburg, where they were met by 
a person who accompanied them to Cleveland and saw them 
take boat for Detroit. Later Fairfield succeeded in aiding 
other companies of slaves to escape from "Washington and 

1 Letter from Mr. Sidney Speed, Crawfordsville, Ind., March 6, 1896. 


Harper's Ferry by resorting to similar means.^ Among the 
Quakers the woman's costume was a favorite disguise for 
fugitives. No one attired in it was likely to be in the least 
degree suspicioned of being anything else than what the 
garb proclaimed. The veiled bonnet also was peculiarly 
adapted to conceal the features of the person disguised.^ 
One incident will suffice to show the utility of the Quaker 
costume. One evening Joseph G. Walker, a Quaker of Wil- 
mington, Delaware, was appealed to by a slave-woman, who 
was closely pursued. She was permitted to enter Mr. 
Walker's house, and a few minutes later, in the gown and 
bonnet of Mrs. Walker, she passed out of the front door lean- 
ing upon the arm of the shrewd Quaker.^ 

It is quite apparent that the Underground Railroad was 
not a formal organization with officers of different ranks, a 
regular membership, and a treasury from which to meet ex- 
penses. A terminology, it is true, sprang up in connection 
with the work of the Road, and one hears of station-keepers, 
agents, conductors, and even presidents of the Underground 
Railroad; but these titles were figurative terms, borrowed 
with other expressions from the convenient vocabulary of 
steam railways; and while they were useful among aboli- 
tionists to save circumlocution, they commended themselves 
to the friends of the slave by helping to mystify the minds of 
the public. The need of organization was not felt except in 
a few localities. It was only in towns and cities that the 
distinctions of " managers," " contributing members," and 
" agents " began to develop in any significant way, and even 
in the case of these places the distinctions must not be 
pushed far, for they indicate merely that certain men by 
their sagacious activity came to be called " managers," while 
others less bold, the contributing members, were willing to 
give money towards defraying the expenses of some trusty 
person, the agent, who would run the risk of piloting fugi- 

The first reference to an organization devoted to the busi- 

1 Beminiseences of Levi Coffin, pp. 439-442. 

2 M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 61. 
' Smedley, Underground Bailroad, p. 244. 


ness of aiding fugitive slaves occurs in a letter of George 
Washington, bearing date May 12, 1786. Washington speaks 
of a "society of Quakers in the city [Philadelphia], formed 
for such purposes. . . ." ^ We have no means of knowing 
how this body conducted its work, nor how long it continued 
to exist. It is sometimes stated that the formal organization 
of the Underground Road took place in 1838, but this is not 
an accurate statement. An organized society of the Under- 
ground Railroad was formed in Philadelphia about the year 
1838. Mr. Robert Purvis, who was the president, has called 
this body the first of its kind, but this may be doubted in 
view of the quotation from Washington's letter above cited. 
The character of the organization appears from the following 
account of its methods given by Mr. Purvis : ^ " The funds 
for carrying on this enterprise were raised from our anti- 
slavery friends, as the cases came up,^ and their needs de- 
manded it ; for many of the fugitives required no other help 
than advice and direction how to proceed. To the late 
Daniel Neall, the society was greatly indebted for his gener- 
ous gifts, as well as for his encouraging words and fearless 
independence. . . . The most eflBcient helpers or agents we 
had, were two market-women, who lived in Baltimore. . . . 

" Another most effective worker was a son of a slaveholder, 
who lived at Newberne, S.C. Through his agency, the slaves 
were forwarded by placing them on vessels. . . . Having 
the address of the active members of the committee, they were 
enabled to find us, when not accompanied by our agents. . . . 
The fugitives were distributed among the members of the 
society, but most of them were received at my house in Phil- 
adelphia, where ... I caused a place to be constructed under- 
neath a room, which could only be entered by a trap-door in 
the floor. . . ." 

This account shows clearly that the organization of 1838 
was limited ; and while it was officered with a president, sec- 

1 Spark's Washington, IX, 158, quoted in Quakers of Pennsylvania, by 
Dr. A. C. Applegarth, Johns Hopkins Studies, X, 463. 

2 The letter from which this quotation is made will be found in Under- 
ground Sailroad, by R. C. Smedley, pp. 355, 356. 

* The italics are my own. 


retary and committee, and had helpers at a distance called 
agents, it can scarcely be said that the plan of action of the 
society was different in essential points from that which de- 
veloped without the formality of election of officers in many 
underground centres throughout the Northern states. Levi 
Coffin, by his devotion to the cause of the fugitive from boy- 
hood to old age, gained the title of President of the Under- 
ground Eailroad,^ but he was not at the head of a formal 
organization. In northeastern Illinois, Peter Stewart, a pros- 
perous citizen of Wilmington, who was a very active worker 
in the cause, was sometimes called President of the Under- 
ground Railroad,^ but here again the distinction seems to have 
been complimentary and figurative. In truth the work was 
everywhere spontaneous, and its character was such that 
organization could have added little or no efficiency. Unfal- 
tering confidence among members of neighboring stations 
served better than a code of rules; special messengers sent 
on the spur of the moment took the place of conferences held 
at stated seasons; supplies gathered privately as they were 
needed sufficed instead of regular dues ; and, in general, the 
decision and sagacity of the individual was required rather 
than the less rapid efforts of an organization. 

In a few centres where the amount of secret service to be 
done was large, a slight specialization of work is to be noticed. 
This division of labor consisted in the employment of a regu- 
lar conductor or agent at these points to manage the work of 
transportation of passengers to points farther north; while 
the station-keepers attended more closely to the work of re- 
ceiving and caring for the new arrivals. The special con- 
ductors chosen were men thoroughly acquainted with the 
different routes of their respective neighborhoods. At 
Mechanicsburg, Champaign County, Ohio, Udney Hyde, a 
fearless and well-known citizen, acted as agent between the 
local stations of J. R. Ware and Levi Rathbun, and stations 
to the northeast as far as the Alum Creek Quaker Settlement, 

1 Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. II, pp. 103, 104 ; see also the 
Meminiscences of Levi Coffin. 

' George H. Woodruff, History of Will County, Illinois, p. 268. 


a distance of forty miles.^ The stations at Mechanicsburg 
were among the most widely known in central and southern 
Ohio. They received fugitives from at least three regular 
routes, and doubtless had " switch connections " with other 
lines. Passengers were taken northward over one of the three, 
perhaps four roads, and as one or two of these lay through 
pro-slavery neighborhoods a brave and experienced agent was 
almost indispensable. George W. S. Lucas, a colored man of 
Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio, made frequent trips with 
the closed carriage of Philip Evans, between Barnesville, New 
Philadelphia and Cadiz, and two stations, Ashtabula and 
Painesville, on the shore of Lake Erie. Occasionally Mr. 
Lucas conducted parties to Cleveland and Sandusky and 
Toledo, but in such cases he went on foot or by stage.^ His 
trips were sometimes a hundred miles and more in length. 
George L. Burroughes, a colored man of Cairo, Illinois, be- 
came an agent for the Underground Road in 1857, while act- 
ing as porter of a sleeping-car running on the Illinois Central 
Railroad between Cairo and Chicago.^ At Albany, New York, 
Stephen Meyers, a negro, was an agent of the Underground 
Road for a wide extent of territory.* At Detroit there were 
several colored agents ; among them George De Baptiste and 
George Dolarson.^ 

The slight approach to organization manifest in some centres 
in the division of labor between station-keepers and special 

1 Conversation with J. R. Ware, and with the daughter of Mr. Hyde, 
Mrs. Amanda Shepherd, Mechanicsburg, O., Sept. 7, 1895; conyersation 
with Major Joseph C. Brand, Urbana, O., Aug. 13, 1894. 

2 Conversation with George W. S. Lucas, Salem, Columbiana Co., Aug. 14, 
1892, when he was fifty-nine years old. He was remarkably clear and con- 
vincing in his statements, many of which have since been corroborated. 
Citizens of Salem referred to him as a reliable source of information. 

8 Letter from George L. Burroughes, Cairo, HI., Jan. 6, 1896. Mr. Bur- 
roughes said that Mr. Robert Delany, a friend from Canada, proposed to 
him that they both take an agency for the Underground Railroad. Delany 
took the Rock Island route and Burroughes the Cairo route. 

* Letter of Martin J^Townsend, Troy, N.Y., Sept. 4, 1896. Mr. Townsend 
was counsel for the fugitivS^'Shailes Nalle, in the Nalle or Troy Rescue case. 
See the little book entitled, Harriet, the Moses of Her People, 2d ed., p. 146 ; 
see also History of the County of Albany, New York, from 1609-1886, 
p. 725. 

' Conversation with Judge J. W. Finney, Detroit, Mich., July 27, 1897. 


agents or conductors was caused by the large number of fugi- 
tives arriving at these points, and the extreme caution neces- 
sary. When, at length, indignation was aroused in the minds 
of Northern abolitionists by the passage of the Fugitive Slave 
Law, September 18, 1850, the determination to resist this 
measure displayed itself in certain localities in the formation 
of vigilance committees. Theodore Parker explains that 
it was in consequence of the enactment of this measure that 
"people held indignant meetings, and organized committees 
of vigilance whose duty was to prevent a fugitive from being 
arrested, if possible, or to furnish legal aid, and raise every 
obstacle to his rendition. The vigilance committees," he 
says, "were also the employees of the U. G. R. R. and 
effectively disposed of many a casus belli by transferring the 
disputed chattel to Canada. Money, time, wariness, devoted- 
ness for months and years, that cannot be computed, and will 
never be recorded, except, perhaps, in connection with cases 
whose details had peculiar interest, was nobly rendered by 
the true anti-slavery men." ^ Such committees of vigUance 
were organized in Syracuse, New York, Boston, Springfield 
and some of the smaller towns of Massachusetts, in Phila- 
delphia and other places. New -York City, like Philadelphia, 
had a Vigilance Committee as early as 1838. About this 
association of the metropolis there is scarcely any informa- 
tion.2 We must be content then to confine our attention to 
the committees called into existence by the Fugitive Slave 
Law of 1850. 

Eight days after the enactment of this law citizens of Syra- 
cuse, New York, issued a call through the newspapers for a 
public meeting, and on October 4 members of all parties 
crowded the city-hall to express their censure of the law. 
The meeting recommended " the appointment of a Vigilance 
Commitee of thirteen citizens, whose duty it shall be to see 
that no person is deprived of his liberty without ' due process 
of law.' And all good citizens are earnestly requested to aid 

1 Weiss, Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker, Vol. II, pp. 92, 93. 

" Frederick Douglass relates that when he escaped from Maryland to New 
York, in 1838, he was hefriended by David Ruggles, the secretary of the 
New York Vigilance Committee ; Life of Frederick Douglass, 1881, p. 206. 


and sustain them in all needed efforts for the security of every 
person claiming the protection of our laws." This committee 
was appointed and an address and resolutions adopted.^ At 
an adjourned meeting held on October 12 the assemblage 
voted to form an association, " pledged to stand by its mem- 
bers in opposing this law, and to share with any of them the 
pecuniary losses they may incur under the operation of this 
law." The determination shown in the organization of these 
two bodies was well sustained a year later when the attempt 
was made by officers of the law to seize Jerry McHenry as a 
fugitive slave. The Vigilance Committee decided to storm 
the court-house, where the colored man was confined under 
guard, and rescue the prisoner. This daring piece of work 
was successfully accomplished, and the government never 
again attempted to recover any slaves in central New York.^ 
The organization of the Vigilance Committee of Syracuse 
was closely followed by the organization of a similar commit- 
tee in Boston. At a meeting in Faneuil Hall, October 14, 
1850, resolutions were adopted expressing the conviction that 
no citizen would take part in reenslaving a fugitive, and 
pledging protection to the colored residents of the city. To 
make good this pledge a Vigilance Committee of fifty was 
appointed.^ This body organized by choosing a president, 
treasurer, and secretary, a committee of finance, an executive 
committee, a legal committee and a committee of special vigi- 
lance and alarm. An appeal was then issued to the citizens 
of Boston calling their attention to the arrival of many desti- 
tute fugitives in Boston, and to the establishment of an agency 

1 The Rev. J. W. Loguen gives the names of the committee in his auto- 
biography, p. 396. 

2 Samuel J. May, Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict, pp. 349-364 ; 
Wilson, Bise and Fall of the Slave Power in the United States, Vol. II, 
pp. 305, 306. 

5 Ibid., p. 308. The list of members of the Committee of VigUanoe given 
by Austin Bearse, the doorkeeper of the Committee, contains two hundred 
and nine names. Among these are A. Bronson Alcott, Edward Atkinson, 
Henry I. Bowditch, Richard H. Dana, Jr., Lewis Hayden, William Lloyd 
Garrison, Samuel G. Howe, Francis Jackson, Ellis Gray Loring, James 
Russell Lowell, Theodore Parker, Edmund Quincy and others of distinction. 
See pp. 3, 4, 5, 6, in Mr. Bearse's Seminiscences of Fugitive-Slave-Law Days 
in Boston. 


for the purpose of securing employment for fugitive appli- 
cants. Gifts of money and clothing were asked for. In re- 
sponse to a circular sent out by the finance committee to all 
the churches in 1851, a sum of about sixteen hundred dollars 
was raised. That there might be cooperation throughout 
the state notices were sent to all the towns in Massachusetts 
urging the formation of local vigilance committees ; and as a 
result such committees were organized in some towns.^ 

The meeting-place of the Boston Committee was Meionaon 
Hall in Tremont Temple. Members were notified of an in- 
tended meeting personally, if possible, by the doorkeeper of 
the committee, Captain Austin Bearse.'^ The proceedings of 
the committee were secret, and comparatively little is now 
known about their work. It is, however, known that for ten 
years the organization was active, and that although it was 
not successful in rescuing Sims and Burns from a hard fate, 
it nevertheless secured the liberty of more than a hundred 

Soon after the Fugitive Slave Law was passed John Brown 
visited Springfield, Massachusetts, where he had formerly 
lived. The valley of the Connecticut had long been a line 
of underground travel, and citizens of Springfield, colored 
and white, had become identified with operations on this line. 
Brown at once decided that the new law made organization 

1 For much valuable material relating to the Vigilance Committee of Bos- 
ton, see Theodore Parker's Scrap-Book, in the Boston Public Library. 

2 Mr. Bearse says: "There were printed tickets of notice which I deliv- 
ered to each member in person, if possible, of which the following copies are 
specimens : 

' Boston, June 7, 1854. 

There wiU be a meeting of the Vigilance Committee at the Meionaon 
(Tremont Temple), on Thursday evening, June 8, at half -past seven. 
Pass in by the Office Entrance, and through the Meionaon Ante-Boom. 
Theodoeb Parkee, Chairman of Executive Committees.'' 

' Vigilance Committee ! The members of the Vigilance Committee are 

hereby notified to meet at 

By order of the Committee, 

A. Bearse, Doorkeeper.'' " 
— Beminiscences of Fugitive-Slave-Law Days in Boston, pp. 15, 16. 
» Ibid., p. 14. 


necessary, and he formed, therefore, the League of Gileadites 
to resist systematically the enforcement of the law. The 
name of this order was significant in that it contained a 
warning to those of its members that should show themselves 
cowards. "Whosoever is fearful or afraid let him return 
and depart early from Mount Gilead." ^ In the " Agreement 
and Rules " that Brown drafted for the order, adopted Janu- 
ary 15, 1851, the following directions for action were laid 
down : " Should one of your number be arrested, you must 
collect together as quickly as possible, so as to outnumber 
your adversaries. . . . Let no able-bodied man appear on 
the ground unequipped, or with his weapons exposed to 
view. . . . Your plans must be known only to yourselves 
and with the understanding that all traitors must die, wher- 
ever caught and proven to be guilty. . . . Let the first blow 
be the signal for all to engage, . . . make clean work with 
your enemies, and be sure you meddle not with any others. 
. . . After effecting a rescue, if you are assailed, go into 
the houses of your most prominent and influential white 
friends with your wives, and that will effectually fasten upon 
them the suspicion of being connected with you, and will 
compel them to make a common cause with you. . . . You 
may make a tumult in the court-room where a trial is going 
on by burning gunpowder freely in paper packages. . . . 
But in such case the prisoner will need to take the hint at 
once and bestir himself ; and so should his friends improve 
the opportunity for a general rush. . . . Stand by one 
another, and by your friends, while a drop of blood remains; 
and be hanged, if you must, but tell no tales out of school. 
Make no confession." By adopting the Agreement and 
Rules forty-four colored persons constituted themselves "a 
branch of the United States League of Gileadites," and 
agreed " to have no ofiBcers except a treasurer and secretary 
pro tem., until after some trial of courage," when they could 
choose ofiicers on the basis of " courage, efficiency, and gen- 
eral good conduct." ^ Doubtless the Gileadites of Springfield 

1 Judg. vii. 3 ; Deut. xx. 8 ; referred to by Brown in his " Agreement and 

" F. B. Sanborn, in his Life and Letters of John Brown, pp. 125, 126, 


Chairman of the Acting Vigilance Committee in Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania, 1852-1860. 


did efficient service, for it appears that the importance of the 
town as a way-station on the Underground Road increased 
after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill.i 

We have already learned that Philadelphia had a Vigilance 
Committee before 1840. In a speech made before the meet- 
ing that organized the new committee, December 2, 1852, 
Mr. J. Miller McKim, the secretary of the Pennsylvania 
Anti-Slavery Society, gave the reasons for establishing a new 
committee. He said that the old committee "had become 
disorganized and scattered, and that for the last two or three 
years the duties of this department had been performed by 
individuals on their own responsibility, and sometimes in a 
very irregular manner." It was accordingly decided to form 
a new committee, called the General Vigilance Committee, 
with a chairman and treasurer ; and within this body an Act- 
ing Committee of four persons, " who should have the re- 
sponsibility of attending to every case that might require 
their aid, as well as the exclusive authority to raise the funds 
necessary for their purpose." The General Committee com- 
prised nineteen members, and had as its head Mr. Robert 
Purvis, one of the signers of the Declaration of Sentiments 
of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and the first president 
of the old committee. The Acting Committee had as its 
chairman William Still, a colored clerk in the office of the 
Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and a most energetic 
underground helper. The Philadelphia Vigilance Commit- 
tee, thus constituted, continued intact until Lincoln issued 
the Emancipation Proclamation.^ Some insight into the 
work accomplished by the Acting Committee can be ob- 
tained by an examination of the book compiled by William 
Still under the title Underground Railroad Records. The 
Acting Committee was required to keep a record of all its 
doings. Mr. Still's volume was evidently amassed by the 

gives the agreement, rules, and signatures. See also R. J. Hinton's John 
Brown and His Men, Appendix, pp. 585, 588. 

1 Mason A. Green, History of Springfield, Massachusetts, 1636-1886, 
p. 506. 

^ Article, " Meeting to Form a Vigilance Committee," in the Pennsylvania 
Freeman, Dec. 9, 1852 ; quoted in Underground Eailroad Records, by William 
Still, pp. 610-612. 


transcription of many of the incidents that found their way 
under this order into the archives of the committee. The 
work was limited to the assistance of such needy fugitives as 
came to Philadelphia ; and was not extended, except in rare 
cases, to inciting slaves to run away from their masters, or to 
aiding them in so doing.i 

The relief of the destitution existing among the wayworn 
travellers was a matter requiring considerable outlay of time 
and money on the part of abolitionists. There was occasion- 
ally a fugitive or family of fugitives, that, having better 
opportunity or possessing greater foresight than others, made 
provision for the journey and escaped to Canada with little 
or no dependence on the aid of underground operators. 
Asbury Parker, of fronton, Ohio, fled from Greenup County, 
Kentucky, in 1857, clad in a suit of broadcloth, alone befit- 
ting, as he thought, the dignity of a free man.^ The brother 
of Anthony Bingey, of Windsor, Ontario, came unexpectedly 
into the possession of five hundred dollars. With this money 
he instructed a friend in Cincinnati to procure a team and 
wagon to convey the family of Bingey to Canada. The com- 
pany arrived at Sandusky after being only three days on the 

But the mass of fugitives were thinly clad, and had only 
such food as they could forage until they reached the Under- 
ground Railroad. The arrival of a company at a station would 
be at once followed by the preparation, often at midnight, of 
a meal for the pilgrims and their guides. It was a common 
thing for a station to entertain a company of five or six ; and 
companies of twenty-eight or thirty are not unheard of. Levi 
Coffin says, " The largest company of slaves ever seated at 
our table, at one time, numbered seventeen." * During one 
month in the year 1854 or 1855 there were sixty runaways 
at the house of Aaron L. Benedict, a station in the Alum 

1 Still's Underground Mailroad Records, p. 177. References to the action 
of the committee of which Mr. Still was chairman will be found scattered 
through the Becords. See, for example, pp. 70, 98, 102, 131, 150, 162, 173, 
176, 204, 224, 274, 275, 303, 325, 335, 388, 412, 449, 493, 500. 

2 Conversation with Ashury Parker, Ironton, O., Sept. 30, 1894. 

" Conversation with Anthony Bingey, Windsor, Ont. , July 3, 1895. 
' Beminiscences, p. 178. 


Creek Quaker Settlement in central Ohio. On one occasion 
twenty sat down to dinner in Mr. Benedict's house. ^ It will 
thus be seen that the supply of provisions alone was for the 
average station-keeper no inconsiderable item of expense, 
and that it was one involving much labor. 

The arrangements for furnishing fugitives with clothing, 
like much of the underground work done at the stations, 
came within the province of the women of the stations. 
While the noted fugitive, William Wells Brown, lay sick at 
the house of his benefactor, Mr. Wells Brown, in southwest- 
ern Ohio, the family made him some clothing, and Mr. 
Brown purchased him a pair of boots.^ Women's anti-sla- 
very societies in many places conducted sewing-circles, as a 
branch of their work, for the purpose of supplying clothes 
and other necessities to fugitives. The Woman's Anti-Sla- 
very Society of Ellington, Chautauqua County, New York, 
sent a letter to William Still, November 21, 1859, saying : 
" Every year we have sent a box of clothing, bedding, etc., 
to the aid of the fugitive, and wishing to send it where it 
would be of the most service, we have it suggested to us, to 
send to you the box we have at present. You would confer 
a favor ... by writing us, . . . whether or not it would be 
more advantageous to you than some nearer station. . . ." ^ 

The Women's Anti-Slavery Sewing Society of Cincinnati 
maintained an active interest in underground work going on 
in their city by supplying clothing to needy travellers.* The 
Female Anti-Slavery Association of Henry County, Indiana, 
organized a Committee of Vigilance in 1841 " to seek out 
such colored females as are not suitably provided for, who 
may now be, or who shall hereafter come, within our limits, 
and assist them in any way they may deem expedient, either 
by advice or pecuniary means. . . ." ^ 

1 Conversation with M. J. Benedict, Alum Creek Settlement, Dec. 2, 1893. 
See also Underground Bailroad, Smedley, pp. 56, 136, 142, 174. 

2 Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave, -written by Mmself, 
2ded., 1848, p. 102. 

« The letter is printed in full, together with other letters, in Still's Under- 
ground Railroad Records, pp. 590, 591. 

* Levi CofSn, Beminiscences, p. 316. 

6 Protectionist, Arnold Bufium, Editor, New Garden, Ind., 7th mo., 1st, 


/ In some of the large centres, money as well as clothing 
and food was constantly needed for the proper performance 
of the underground work. Thus, for example, at Cincinnati, 
Ohio, it was frequently necessary to hire carriages in which 
to convey fugitives out of the city to some neighboring 
station. From time to time as the occasion arose Levi Coffin 
collected the funds needed for such purposes from business 
acquaintances. He called these contributors "stock-holders " 
in the Underground Railroad.^ After steam railroads be- 
came incorporated in the underground system money was 
required at different points to purchase tickets for fugitives. 
The Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia defrayed the trav- 
elling expenses of many refugees in sending some to New 
York City, some to Elmira and a few to Canada.^ Fred- 
erick Douglass, who kept a station at Rochester, New York, 
received contributions of money to pay the railroad fares of 
the fugitives he forwarded to Canada and to give them a 
little more for pressing necessities.^ 

The use of steam railroads as a means of transportation of 
this class of passengers began with the completion of lines of 
road to the lakes. This did not take place till about 1850. 
It was, therefore, during the last decade of the history of the 
Underground Road that surface lines, as they were some- 
times called by abolitionists, became a part of the secret 
system. There were probably more surface lines in Ohio 
than in any other state. The old Mad River Railroad, or 
Sandusky, Dayton and Cincinnati Railroad, of western Ohio, 
(now a part of the " Big Four " system), began to be used at 
least as early as 1852 by instructed fugitives.* The San- 
dusky, Mansfield and Newark Railroad (now the Baltimore 
and Ohio) from Utica, Licking County, Ohio, to Sandusky, 
was sometimes used by the same class of persons.^ After 

1 Beminiscences, pp. 317, 321. 

' Still's Underground Bailroad Becords, p. 613. 

" Ibid., p. 598. In the fragment of a letter from -whicli Mr. Still quotes, 
Mr. Douglass says, "They [the fugitives] usually tarry with us only during 
the night, and are forwarded to Canada by the morning train. We give them 
supper, lodging, and breakfast, pay their expenses, and give them a half-dollar 

♦ The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 21. 6 jjjy.^ pp. 23, 57, 79. 


the construction of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati 
Railroad 1 as far as Greenwich in northern Ohio, fugitives 
often came to that point concealed in freight-cars. In east- 
ern Ohio there were two additional routes by rail sometimes 
employed in underground traffic : one of these appears to 
have been the Cleveland and Canton from Zanesville north,^ 
and the other was the Cleveland and Western between 
Alliance and Cleveland.^ In Indiana the Louisville, New 
Albany and Chicago Railroad from Crawfordsville north- 
ward was patronized by underground travellers until the 
activity of slave-hunters caused it to be abandoned.* Fugi- 
tives were sometimes transported across the State of Michi- 
gan by the Michigan Central Railroad. In Illinois there seems 
to have been not less than three railroads that carried fugi- 
tives : these were the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy,^ the 
Chicago and Rock Island ^ and the Illinois Central.^ When 
John Brown made his famous journey through Iowa in the 
winter of 1858-1859 he shipped his company of twelve fugi- 
tives in a stock car from West Liberty, Iowa, to Chicago, 
by way of the Chicago and Rock Island route.^ In Pennsyl- 
vania and New York there were several lines over which 
runaways were sent when circumstances permitted. At 
Harrisburg, Reading and other points along the Philadelphia 
and Reading Railroad, fugitives were put aboard the cars 
for Philadelphia.^ From Pennsylvania they were forwarded 

1 Ibid.1 p. 74. The "Three C's" is now the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago 
and St. Louis Railroad, or "Big Four " Route. 

2 Conversation vyith Thomas Williams, of Pennsville, O. ; letter of H. C. 
Harvey, Manchester, Kan., Jan. 16, 1893. 

8 Letter of I. Newton Peirce, Folcroft, Pa., Feb. 1, 1893. 

* Letter of Sidney Speed, Crawfordsville, Ind., March 6, 1896. Mr. Speed 
and his father were both connected with the Crawfordsville centre. 

5 Life and, Poems of John Howard Bryant, p. 30 ; letter of William H. 
Collins, Quincy, 111., Jan. 13, 1896 ; History of Knox County, Illinois, p. 211. 

5 Letter of George L. Burroughes, Cairo, 111., Jan. 6, 1896. 

' Ibid. ; conversation with the Rev. R. G. Ramsey, Cadiz, 0., Aug. 18, 1892. 

' J. B. Grinnell, Men and Events of Forty Years, p. 216. 

9 Smedley, Underground Bailroad, pp. 174, 176, 177, 365. The following 
letter Is in point : — „ schutlkill, 11th Mo., 7th, 1857. 

William Still, Respected Friend : — There are three colored friends at 

my house now, who will reach the city by the Philadelphia and Reading train 

this evening. Please meet them. rrv,ir,o otn 

Ihme, etc., j,_ j,_ Peuntpaoker." 


by the Vigilance Committee over different lines, sometimes 
by way of the Pennsylvania Railroad to New York City; 
sometimes by way of the Philadelphia and Reading and the 
Northern Central to Elmira, New York, whence they were 
sent on by the same line to Niagara Falls. Fugitives put 
aboard the cars at Elmira were furnished with money from 
a fund provided by the anti-slavery society. As a matter of 
precaution they were sent out of town at four o'clock in the 
morning, and were always placed by the train officials, who 
knew their destination, in the baggage-car.i The New York 
Central Railroad from Rochester west was an outlet made 
use of by Frederick Douglass in passing slaves to Canada. 
At Syracuse, during several years before the beginning of 
the War, one of the directors of this road, Mr. Horace White, 
the father of Dr. Andrew D. White, distributed passes to fugi- 
tives. This fact did not come to the knowledge of Dr. White 
until after his father's demise. He relates : " Some years 
after ... I met an old ' abolitionist ' of Syracuse, who said 
to me that he had often come to my father's house, rattled 
at the windows, informed my father of the passes he needed 
for fugitive slaves, received them through the window, and 
then departed, nobody else being the wiser. On my asking 
my mother, who survived my father several years, about it, 
she said : ' Yes, such things frequently occurred, and your 
father, if he was satisfied of the genuineness of the request, 
always wrote off the passes and handed them out, asking no 
questions." ^ 

In the New England states fugitives travelled, under the 
instruction of friends, by way of the Providence and Worcester 
Railroad from Valley Falls, Rhode Island, to Worcester, Mas- 
sachusetts, where by arrangement they were transferred to the 
Vermont Road.' The Boston and Worcester Railroad be- 
tween Newton and Worcester, Massachusetts, as also between 
Boston and Worcester, seems to have been used to some ex- 
tent in this way.* The Grand Trunk, extending from Port- 

1 Letter of John W. Jones, Elmira, N.Y., Jan. 18, 1897. 

2 Letter of the Hon. Andrew D. White, Ithaca, N.T., April 10, 1897, 

8 Mrs. Elizabeth Buffum Chace, Anti-Slavery neminiscences, pp. 28, 38. 
* Letter of William I. Bowditch, Boston, April 5, 1893. Mr. Bowditch 
says: "Generally I passed them (the fugitives) on to William Jackson, at 


land, Maine, through the northern parts of New Hampshire 
and Vermont into Canada, occasionally gave passes to fugi- 
tives, and would always take reduced fares for this class of 

The advantages of escape by boat were early discerned by 
slaves living near the coast or along inland rivers. Vessels 
engaged in our coastwise trade became more or less involved 
in transporting fugitives from Southern ports to Northern 
soil. Small trading vessels, returning from their voyages to 
Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, landed slaves on the New 
England coast.^ In July, 1853, the brig Florence (Captain 
Amos Hopkins, of Hallo well, !Maine) from Wilmington, North 
Carolina, was required, while lying in Boston harbor, to sur- 
render a fugitive found on board. In September, 1851, the 
schooner Sally Ann (of Belfast, Maine), from the same South- 
ern port, was induced to give up a slave known to be on board. 
In October of the same year the brig Cameo (of Augusta, 
Maine) brought a stowaway from Jacksonville, Florida, into 
Boston harbor, and, as in the two preceding cases, the slave 
was rescued from the danger of return to the South through 
the activity and shrewdness of Captain Austin Bearse, the 
agent of the Vigilance Committee of Boston.^ The son of 
a slaveholder living at Newberne, North Carolina, forwarded 
slaves from that point to the Vigilance Committee of Phila- 
delphia on vessels engaged in the lumber trade.* In Novem- 
ber, 1855, Captain Fountain brought twenty-one fugitives 
concealed on his vessel in a cargo of grain from Norfolk, 
Virginia, to Philadelphia.^ 

The tributaries flowing into the Ohio River from Virginia 
and Kentucky furnished convenient channels of escape for 

Newton. His house being on the Worcester Railroad, he could easily forward 
any one." Captain Aiistin Bearse, Reminiscences of Fugitive- Slave Law 
Days in Boston, p. .37. 

1 Letter of Brown Thurston, Portland, Me., Oct. 21, 1895. 

2 Mrs. Elizabeth Buffum Chace, Anti-Slavery Beminiscences, pp. 27, 30. 

' Austin Bearse, Beminiscences of Fugitive- Slave Law Bays in Boston, 
1880, pp. 34-39. 

* Smedley, Underground Bailroad, letter of Robert Purvis, of Philadel- 
phia, p. 335. 

s Still, Underground Bailroad Becords, pp. 165-172. For other cases, see 
pp. 211, 379-381, 437, 558, 559-565. 


many slaves. The concurrent testimony of abolitionists living 
along the Ohio is to the effect that streams like the Kanawha 
River bore many a boat-load of fugitives to the southern 
boundary of the free states. It is not a mere coincidence 
that a large number of the most important centres of activity 
lie along the southern line of the Western free states at pointe 
near or opposite the mouths of rivers and creeks. On the 
Mississippi, Ohio and Illinois rivers north-bound steamboats 
not infrequently provided the means of escape. Jefferson 
Davis declared in the Senate that many slaves escaped from 
his state into Ohio by taking passage on the boats of the 

Abolitionists found it desirable to have waterway exten- 
sions of their secret lines. Boats, the captains of which were 
favorable, were therefore drafted into the service when run- 
ning on convenient routes. Boats plying between Portland, 
Maine, and St. John, New Brunswick, or other Canadian 
ports, often took these passengers free of charge.^ Thomas 
Garrett, of Wilmington, Delaware, sometimes sent negroes by 
steamboat to Philadelphia to be cared for by the Vigilance 
Committee.^ It happened on several occasions that fugitives 
at Portland and Boston were put aboard ocean steamers bound 
for England.* William and Ellen Craft were sent to England 
after having narrowly escaped capture in Boston.^ 

On the great lakes the boat service was extensive. The 
boats of General Reed touching at Racine, Wisconsin, received 
fugitives without fare. Among these were the Sultana (Cap- 
tain Appleby), the Madison, the Missouri, the Niagara and 
the Keystone State. Captain Steele of the propeller Galena 
was a friend of fugitives, as was also Captain Kelsey of the 
Qhesapealce. Mr. A. P. Dutton was familiar with these 

1 See p. 312, Chapter X. 

2 Letters of Brown Thurston, Portland, Me., Jan. 13, 1893, and Oct. 21, 

' For letters from Mr. Garrett to William Still, of the Acting Committee 
of "Vigilance of Philadelphia, notifying him that fugitives had been sent hy 
boat, see Still's Underground Sailroad Becords, pp. 380, 387. 

* Letter of S. T. Pickard, Portland, Me., Nov. 18, 1893. 

s Still, Underground Bailroad Becords, p. 368 ; Wilson, Bise and Fall of 
the Slave Power, Vol. II, p. 325 ; New England Magazine, January, 1890< 
p. 580. 


vessels and their oflScers, and for twenty years or more 
shipped runaway slaves as well as cargoes of grain from 
his dock in Racine.^ The Illinois (Captain Blake), running 
between Chicago and Detroit, was a safe boat on which to 
place passengers whose destination was Canada.^ John G. 
Weiblen navigated the lakes in 1855 and 1856, and took 
many refugees from Chicago to CoUingwood, Ontario.^ The 
Arrow,^ the United States,^ the Bay City and the Mayflower 
plying between Sandusky and Detroit, were boats the officers 
of which were always willing to help negroes reach Canadian 
ports. The Forest Queen, the Morning Star and the May 
Queen, running between Cleveland and Detroit, the Phoebus, 
a little boat plying between Toledo and Detroit, and, finally, 
some scows and sail-boats, are among the old craft of the 
great lakes that carried many slaves to their land of promise.^ 
A clue to the number of refugees thus transported to Canada 
is perhaps given by the record of the boat upon which the 
fugitive, William Wells Brown, found employment. This boat 
ran from Cleveland to Buffalo and to Detroit. It quickly 
became known at Cleveland that Mr. Brown would take 
escaped slaves under his protection without charge, hence he 
rarely failed to find a little company ready to sail when he 
started out from Cleveland. " In the year 1842," he says, 
" I conveyed, from the first of May to the first of December, 
sixty-nine fugitives over Lake Erie to Canada." ^ 

The account of the method of the Underground Railroad 
could scarcely be called complete without some notice of the 
rescue of fugitives under arrest. The first rescue occurred 
at the intended trial of the first fugitive slave case in Boston 
in 1793. Mr. Josiah Quincy, counsel for the fugitive, " heard 

1 Letter of A. P. Button, of Racine, Wis., April 7, 1896. As a shipper of 
grain and an abolitionist for twenty years in Racine, Mr. Button was able to 
turn his dock into a place of deportation for runaway slaves. 

2 A. J. Andreas, History of Chicago, Vol. I, p. 606. 

« Letter of Mr. Weiblen, Fairview, Erie Co., Pa., Nov. 26, 1895. 

« The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 46. 

' Ihid., p. 50. 

• The names of the last six boats given, as well as several of the others, 
were obtained from freedmen in Canada, who keep them in grateful remem- 

' Narrative of William W. Brown, by himself, 1848, pp. 107, 108. 


a noise, and, turning around, saw the constables lying sprawl- 
ing on the floor, and a passage opening through the crowd, 
through which the fugitive was taking his departure without 
stopping to hear the opinion of the court." ^ 

The prototype of deliverances thus established was, it is 
true, more or less deviated from in later instances, but the 
general characteristics of these cases are such that they 
naturally fall into one class. They are cases in which the 
execution of the law was interfered with by friends of the 
prisoner, who was spirited away as quickly as possible. The 
deliverance in 1812 of a supposed runaway from the hands of 
his captor by the New England settlers of Worthington, Ohio, 
has already been referred to in general terms. ^ But some 
details of the incident are necessary to bring out more clearly 
the propriety of its being included in the category of instances 
of violation of the constitutional provision for the rendition 
of escaped slaves. It appears that word was brought to the 
village of Worthington of the capture of the fugitive at a 
neighboring town, and that the villagers under the direction 
of Colonel James Kilbourne took immediate steps to release 
the negro, who, it was said, was tied with ropes, and being 
afoot, was compelled to keep up as best he could with his 
master's horse. On the arrival of the slave-owner and his 
chattel, the latter was freed from his bonds by the use of a 
butcher-knife in the hands of an active villager, and the 
forms of a legal dismissal were gone through before a court 
and an audience whose convictions were ruinous to any 
representations the claimant was able to make. The dis- 
possessed master was permitted to continue his journey 
southward, while the negro was directed to get aboard a 
government wagon on its way northward to Sandusky. The 
return of the slave-hunter a day or two later with a process 
obtained in Franklinton, authorizing the retaking of his 
property, secured him a second hearing, but did not change 
the result. A fugitive, Basil Dorsey, from Liberty, Frederick 
County, Maryland, was seized in Bucks Count}--, Pennsyl- 

1 Mr. Quinoy's report of the case, quoted by M. G. McDougall, Fugitive 
Slaves, p. 35. 

2 See p. 38. 


vania, in 1836, and carried away. Overtaken by Mr. Robert 
Purvis at Doylestown, be was brought into court, and the 
hearing of the case was postponed for two weeks. When the 
day of trial came the counsel for the slave succeeded in 
getting the case dismissed on the ground of certain ob- 
jections. Thereupon the claimants of the slave hastened 
to a magistrate for a new warrant, but just as they were 
returning to rearrest the fugitive, he was hustled into 
the buggy of Mr. Purvis and driven rapidly out of the 
reach of the pursuers.^ ^In October, 1853, the case of Louis, 
a fugitive from Kentucky on trial in Cincinnati, was brought 
to a conchision in an unexpected way. The United States 
commissioner was about to pronounce judgment when the 
prisoner, taking advantage of a favorable opportunity, slipped 
from his chair, had a good hat placed upon his head by some 
friend, passed out of the court-room among a crowd of colored 
visitors and made his way cautiously to Avondale. A few 
minutes after the disappearance of the fugitive his absence 
was discovered by the marshal that had him in charge ; and 
although careful search was made for him, he escaped to 
Canada by means of the Underground Railroad.^ /In April, 
1859, Charles Nalle, a slave from Culpeper County, Vir- 
ginia, was discovered in Troy, New York, and taken before 
the United States commissioner, who remanded him back to 
slavery. As the news of this decision spread, a crowd 
gathered about the commissioner's office. In the meantime, 
a writ of habeas corpus was served upon the marshal that had 
arrested Nalle, commanding that officer to bring the prisoner 
before a judge of the Supreme Court. When the marshal 
and his deputies appeared with the slave, the crowd made a 
charge upon them, and a hand-to-hand melee resulted. Inch 
by inch the progress of the officers was resisted until they 
were worn out, and the slave escaped. In haste the fugitive 
was ferried across the river to West Troy, only to fall into 
the hands of a constable and be again taken into custody. 
The mob had followed, however, and now stormed the door 
behind which the prisoner rested under guard. In the attack 

^ Smedley, Underground Bailroad, pp. 356-361. 
2 Levi Coffin, JSeminiscences, pp. 548-554. 


the door was forced open, and over the body of a negro assail- 
ant, struck down in the fray, the slave was torn from his 
guards, and sent on his way to Canada.^ Well-known cases 
of rescue, such as the Shadrach case, which occurred in Bos- 
ton in January, 1851, and the Jerry rescue, which occurred 
in Syracuse nine months later, may be omitted here. They, 
like many others that have been less often chronicled, show 
clearly the temper of resolute men in the communities where 
they occurred. It was felt by these persons that the slave, 
who had already paid too high a penalty for his color, could 
not expect justice at the hands of the law, that his liberty 
must be preserved to him, and a base statute be thwarted at 
any cost. 

1 This account is condensed from a report given in the Troy Whig, April 
28, 1859, and printed in the book entitled, Harriet the Moses of Her People, 
pp. 143-149. 

y-^'U-7^5 %r-f,tl 

i ^ 

' /y r p^ 

/7y-y ^f^Ti 

Mr. Coffin and his wife aided more than 3000 slaves in their flight. 



Persons opposed to slavery were, naturally, the friends of 
the fugitive slave, and were ever ready to respond to his 
appeals for help. Shelter and food were readily suppKed 
him, and he was directed or conveyed, generally in the night, 
to sympathizing neighbors, until finally, without any fore- 
thought or management on his own part, he found himself in 
Canada a free man. V These helpers, in the course of time, 
came to be called agents, station-keepers, or conductors on the 
Underground Railroad. Of the names of those that belonged 
to this class of practical emancipationists, 3,211 have been 
catalogued ;i change of residence and death have made it 
impossible to obtain the names of many more. T Considering 
the kind of labor performed and the danger involved, one is 
impressed with the unselfish devotion to principle of these 
emancipators. There was for them, of course, no outward 
honor, no material recompense, but instead such contumely 
and seeming disgrace as can now be scarcely comprehended. 

Nevertheless, they were rich in courage, and their hospital- 
ity was equal to all emergencies. They gladly gave aid and 
comfort to every negro seeking freedom ; and the numbers 
befriended by many helpers despite penalties and abuse show 
with what moral determination the work was carried on. \ It 
has been said that the Hopkins, Salsbury, Snediger, Dickey 
and Kirkpatrick families, of southern Ohio, forwarded more 
than 1,000 fugitives to Canada before the year 1817.^ Daniel 
Gibbons, of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was engaged 
in helping fugitive slaves during a period of fifty-six years. 
"He did not keep a record of the number he passed until 1824. 

1 See Appendix E, pp. 405-439. 

* William Bimey, James G. Birney and His Times, p. 436. 


But prior to that time, it was supposed to have been over 200, 
and up to the time of his death (in 1853) he had aided about 
1,000." 1 It has been estimated that Dr. Nathan M. Thomas, of 
Schoolcraft, Michigan, forwarded between 1,000 and 1,500 f ugi- 
tives.2 John Fairfield, the abductor, " piloted not only hun- 
dreds, but thousands." ^ The Rev. Charles T. Torrey went to 
Maryland and " from there sent — as he wrote previous to 1844 
— some 400 slaves over different routes to Canada." * PhUo 
Carpenter, of Chicago, is reported to have escorted 200 fugi- 
tives to vessels bound for Canada.® In a letter to William 
Still, in November, 1857, Elijah F. Pennypacker, of Chester 
County, Pennsylvania, writes, " we have within the past two 
months passed forty-three through our hands." ^ H. B. Leeper, 
of Princeton, Illinois, says that the most successful business 
he ever accomplished in this line was the helping on of thirty- 
one men and women in six weeks' time.'' Leverett B. Hill, 
of Wakeman, Ohio, assisted 103 on their way to Canada 
during the year 1852.* Mr. Van Dorn, of Quincy, in a service 
of twenty-five years, assisted "some two or three hundred 
fugitives."® W. D. Schooley, of Richmond, Indiana, writes, 
"I think I must have assisted over 100 on their way to 
liberty." 1° Jonathan H. Gray, Milton Hill and John H. 
Frazee were conductors at Carthage, Indiana, and are said to 
have helped over 150 fugitives.-'^ " Thousands of fugitives 
found rest" at Ripley, Brown County, Ohio.^ During the 
lifetime of General Mclntire, a Virginian, who settled in 
Adams County, Ohio, "more than 100 slaves found a safe 
retreat under his roof." Other helpers in the same state 

1 Smedley, Underground Railroad, p. 56. 

2 Letter of Mrs. Pamela S. Thomas, Schoolcraft, Mich., March 25, 1896. 
2 Letter of Mrs. Laura S. Haviland, Englewood, 111., June 5, 1893. 

< Letter of M. M. Fisher, Medway, Mass., Oct. 23, 1893. 

5 E. G. Mason, Early Chicago and Illinois, 1890, p. 110. 

8 Letter of Sarah C. Pennypacker, Schuylkill, Pa., June 8, 1896. 

' Letter of H. B. Leeper, Princeton, 111., Dec. 19, 1895. 

" Letter of E. S. Hill, Atlantic, la., Oct. 30, 1894. 

^ Wilson, Bise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. II, p. 67. 
1" Letter of W. D. Schooley, Nov. 15, 1893. 
1^ Letter of James H. Frazee, Milton, Ind., Feb. 3, 1894. 
^ Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. I, p. 335. See also 
History of Brown County, Ohio, p. 443. 


rendered service deserving of mention. Ozem Gardner, of 
Sharon Township, Franklin County, " assisted more than 200 
fugitives on their way in all weathers and at all times of the 
day and night." ^ It is estimated by a friend of Dr. J. A. 
Bingham and George J. Payne, two operators of Gallia 
County, that the line of escape with which these men were 
connected was travelled by about 200 slaves every year from 
1845 to 1856.2 From 1844 to 1860 John H. Stewart, a col- 
ored station-keeper of the same county, kept about 100 fugi- 
tives at his house.3 Five hundred are said to have passed 
through the hands of Thomas L. Gray, of Deavertown, in Mor- 
gan County.* Ex-President Fairchild speaks of the " multi- 
tudes " of fugitives that came to Oberlin, and says that " not 
one was ever finally taken back to bondage." ^ Many other 
stations and station-agents that were instrumental in helping 
large numbers of slaves from bondage to freedom cannot be 
mentioned here. 

Reticent as most underground operators were at the time 
in regard to their unlawful acts, they did not attempt to con- 
ceal their principles. On the contrary, they were zealous in 
their endeavors to make converts to a doctrine that seemed 
to them to have the combined warrant of Scripture and of 
their own conscience, and that agreed with the convictions 
of the fathers of the Republic. The Golden Rule and the 
preamble of the Declaration of Independence they often re- 
cited in support of their position. When they had trans- 
gressed the Fugitive Slave Law of Congress they were wont 
to find their justification in what ex-President Fairchild of 
Oberlin has aptly called the Fugitive Slave Law of the Mo- 
saic institutions : ® " Thou shalt not deliver unto his master 
the servant which hath escaped unto thee ; he shall dwell 
with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall 

^ History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, Ohio, p. 424. 

2 Letter of Dr. N. B. Sisson, Porter, Gallia Co., O., Sept. 16, 1894. 

« Letter of Gabe N. Johnson, Ironton, O., November, 1894. 

* Article in the New Lexington (0.) Tribune, signed " W. A. D.," fall of 
1885 ; exact date unknown. 

' Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. 11, p. 380. 

« Fairchild, The Underground Bailroad, Vol. IV; Tract No. 87, Western 
Eeserve Historical Society, p. 97. 


choose in one of thy gates where it liketh him best; thou 
shalt not oppress him."i They refused to observe a law that 
made it a felony in their opinion to give a cup of cold water 
to famishing men and women fleeing from servitude. Their 
faith and determination is clearly expressed in one of the 
old anti-slavery songs : — 

" 'Tis the law of God in the human soul, 

'Tis the law in the Word Divine ; 
It shall live while the earth in its course shall roU, 

It shall live in this soul of mine. 
Let the law of the land forge its bonds of wrong, 

I shall help when the self-freed crave ; 
For the law in my soul, bright, beaming, and strong, 

Bids me succor the fleeing slave." 

Theodore Parker was but the mouthpiece of many abolition- 
ists throughout the Northern states when he said, at the con- 
clusion of a sermon in 1850 : " It is known to you that the 
Fugitive Slave Bill has become a law. ... To law framed 
of such iniquity I owe no allegiance. Humanity, Christianity, 
manhood revolts against it. . . . For myself I say it solemnly, 
I will shelter, I will help, and I will defend the fugitive with 
all my humble means and power. I will act with any body 
of decent and serious men, as the head, or the foot, or the 
hand, in any mode not involving the use of deadly weapons, 
to nullify and defeat the operation of this law. . . ." ^ 

Sentiments of this kind were cherished in almost every 
Northern community by a few persons at least. There were 
some New England colonies in the West where anti-slavery 
sentiments predominated. These, like some of the religious 
communities, as those of the Quakers and Covenanters, became 
well-known centres of underground activity. In general it 
is safe to say that the majority of helpers in the North were 
of Anglo-American stock, descendants of the Puritan and 
Quaker settlers of the Eastern states, or of Southerners that 
had moved to the Northern states to be rid of slavery. The 

1 Deut. xxiii, 15, 16. 

2 Delivered in Melodeon Hall, Boston, Oct. 6, 1850. The Chronotype, 
Oct. 7, 1850. See Vol. II, No. 2, of the Scrap-booh relating to Theodore 
Parker, compiled by Miss C. C. Thayer, Boston Public Library. 


many stations in the eastern and northern parts of Ohio and the 
northern part of Illinois may be safely attributed to the large 
proportion of New England settlers in those districts. Locali- 
ties where the work of befriending slaves was largely in the 
hands of Quakers will be mentioned in another connection. 
Southern settlers in Brown County and adjoining districts in 
Ohio are said to have been regularly forwarding escaped slaves 
to Canada before 1817.^ The emigration of a number of these 
settlers to Bond County, Illinois, about 1820, and the removal 
of a few families from that region to Putnam County in the 
same state about a decade later, helps to explain the early 
development of secret routes in the southern and north central 
parts of Illinois.^ 

In the South much secret aid was rendered fugitives, no 
doubt, by persons of their own race. Two colored market- 
women in Baltimore were efficient agents for the VigQance 
Committee of Philadelphia.^ Frederick Douglass's connec- 
tion with the Underground Railroad began long before he 
left the South.* In the North, people of the African race 
were to be found in most communities, and in many places 
they became energetic workers. Negro settlements in the 
interior of the free states, as well as along their southern 
frontier, soon came to form important links in the chain of 
stations leading from the Southern states to Canada. 

In the early days running slaves sometimes sought and 
received aid from Indians. This fact is evidenced by the 
introduction of fugitive recovery clauses into a number 
of the treaties made between the colonies and Indian tribes. 
Seven out of the eight treaties made between 1784 and 1786 
contained clauses for the return of black prisoners, or of 
"negroes and other property."* A few of the colonies 
offered rewards to induce Indians to apprehend and restore 
runaways. In 1669 Maryland " ordered that any Indian who 

1 William Bimey, James &. Birney and His Times, p. 435. 
^ Letter of H. B. Leeper, Princeton, 111., Dec. 19, 1895. 
' Smedley, Underground, Bailroad, p. 355. 

* Letter of Prederick Douglass, Cedar Hill, Anaoostia, D.C., March 27, 
1893. Mr. Douglass escaped from slavery in 1839. 
' M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 13, 104, 105. 


shall apprehend a fugitive may have a ' match coate ' or its 
value. Virginia would give ' 20 armes length of Roauake,' 
or its value, while in Connecticut ' two yards of cloth ' was 
considered sufficient inducement." ^ The inhabitants of the 
Ottawa village of Chief Kinjeino in northwestern Ohio were 
kindly disposed towards the fugitive ; ^ and the people of 
Chief Brant, who held an estate on the Grand River in 
Ontario west of Niagara Falls, were in the habit of receiving 
colored refugees.^ 

The people of Scotch and Scotch-Irish descent were 
naturally liberty loving, and seem to have given hearty 
support to the anti-slavery cause in whatever form it pre- 
sented itself to them. The small number of Scotch commu- 
nities in Morgan and Logan counties, Ohio, and in Randolph 
and Washington counties, Illinois, were centres of under- 
ground service. 

The secret work of the English, Irish and German set- 
tlers cannot be so readily localized. In various places a 
single German, Irishman, or Englishman is known to have 
aided escaped slaves in cooperation with a few other per- 
sons of different nationality, but so far as known there 
were no groups made up of representatives of one or another 
of these races engaged in such enterprises. At Toledo, 
Ohio, the company of helpers comprised Congressman James 
M. Ashley, a Pennsylvanian by birth; Richard Mott, a 
Quaker; James Conlisk, an Irishman; William H. Merritt, 
a negro ; and several others.* Lyman Goodnow, an operator 
of Waukesha, Wisconsin, says he was told that "in cases 
of emergency the Germans were next best to Quakers 
for protection."^ Two German companies from Massachu- 
setts enlisted for the War only when promised that they 
should not be required to restore runaways to their owners.^ 

1 M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 7, 8, and the references there 

2 Letter of Colonel D. W. H. Howard, Wauseon, 0., Aug. 22, 1894. 
s See Chapter VII, p. 203. 

* Conversation with the Hon. James M. Ashley, Toledo, O., August, 1894. 
^ Narrative of Lyman Goodnow in History of Waukesha County, Wiscon- 
sin, p. 462. 

6 See p. 355, Chapter XI. 


Some religious communities and phurch societies were con- 
servators of abolition ideas. The Quakers deserve, in this 
work, to be placed before all other denominations because of 
their general acceptance and advocacy of anti-slavery doc- 
trines when the system of slavery had no other opponents. 
From the time of George Fox until the last traces of the 
evil were swept from the English-speaking world many 
Quakers bore a steadfast testimony against it.^ Fox re- 
minded slaveholders that if they were in their slaves' 
places they would consider it "very great bondage and 
cruelty," and he urged upon the Friends in America to 
preach the gospel to the enslaved blacks. In 1688 German 
Friends at Germantown, Pennsylvania, made an official pro- 
test " against the traffic in the bodies of men and the treat- 
ment of men as cattle." By 1772 New England Friends 
began to disown (expel) members for failing to manumit 
their slaves ; and four years later both the Philadelphia and 
the New York yearly meetings made slaveholding a disown- 
able offence. A similar step was taken by the Baltimore 
Yearly Meeting in 1777; and meetings in Virginia were 
directed, in 1784, to disown those that refused to emancipate 
their slaves.^ Owing to obstacles in the way of setting 
slaves free in North Carolina, a committee of Quakers of 
that state was appointed in 1822 to examine the laws of 
some of the free states respecting the admission of people 
of color therein. In 1823 the committee reported that there 
was "nothing in the laws of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to 
prevent the introduction of people of color into those states, 
and agents were instructed to remove «slaves placed in their 
care as fast as they were willing to go." These facts show 
the sentiment that prevailed in the Society of Friends. 
Many Southern Quakers moved to the North on account of 
their hatred of slavery, and established such important 
centres of underground work as Springboro and Salem, Ohio, 
and Spiceland and New Garden, Indiana. Quakers in New 

1 S. B. Weeks, Southern Quakers and Slavery, p. 198. 

'^American Church History, Vol. XII; see article on "The Society of 
Friends," by Professor A. C. Thomas, pp. 242-248 ; also Weeks, Southern 
Quakers and Slavery, pp. 198-219. 


Bedford and Lynn, Massachusetts, and Valley Falls, Rhode 
Island, engaged in the service. The same class of people in 
Maryland cooperated with members of their society in the 
vicinity of Philadelphia. The existence of numerous Under- 
ground Railroad centres in southeastern Pennsylvania and in 
eastern Indiana is explained by the fact that a large number 
of Quakers dwelt in those regions. 

The Methodists began to take action against slavery in 
1780. At an informal conference held at Baltimore in that 
year the subject was presented in the form of a " Question, — 
Ought not this conference to require those travelling preach- 
ers who hold slaves to give promises to set them free ? " The 
answer given was in the affirmative. Concerning the mem- 
bership the language adopted was as follows : " We pass our 
disapprobation on all our friends who keep slaves ; and ad- 
vise their freedom." Under the influence of Wesleyan 
preachers, it is said, not a few cases of emancipation occurred. 
At a conference in 1785, however, it was decided to "suspend 
the execution of the minute on slavery till the deliberations of 
a future conference. . . ." Four years later a clause ap- 
peared in the Discipline, by whose authority is not known, 
prohibiting "The buying or selling the bodies or souls of 
men, women, or children, with an intention to enslave them." 
This provision evidently referred to the African slave-trade. 
In 1816 the General Conference adopted a resolution that 
"no slaveholder shall be eligible to any official station in 
our Church hereafter, where the laws of the state in which 
he lives will admit of emancipation, and permit the liberated 
slave to enjoy freedom." Later there seems to have been a 
disposition on the part of the church authorities to suppress 
the agitation of the slavery question, but it can scarcely be 
doubted that the well-known views of the Wesleys and of 
Whitfield remained for some at least the standard of right 
opinion, and that their declarations formed for these the rule 
of action. In 1842 a secession from the church took place, 
chiefly if not altogether on account of the question of slavery, 
and a number of abolitionist members of the uncompromising 
type founded a new church organization, which they called 
the " Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America." Slave- 


holders were excluded from fellowship in this body. Within 
two or three years the new organization had drawn away 
twenty thousand members from the old.^ In 1844 a much 
larger secession took place on the same question, the occa- 
sion being the institution of proceedings before the General 
Conference against the Rev. James O. Andrew, D.D., a slave- 
holding bishop of the South. This so aggravated the Metho- 
dist Episcopal societies in the slave states that they withdrew 
and formed the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Among 
the members of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection and of 
the older society of the North there were a number of zealous 
underground operators. Indeed, it came to be said of the 
Wesleyans, as of the Quakers, that almost every neighbor- 
hood where a few of them lived was likely to be a station of the 
secret Road to Canada. It is probable that some of the Wes- 
leyans at Wilmington, Ohio, cooperated vidth Quakers at that 
point. In Urbana, Ohio, there were Methodists of the two 
divisions engaged.^ Service was also performed by Wesley- 
ans at Tippecanoe, Deersville and Rocky Fort in Tuscarawas 
County,^ and at Piqua, Miami County, Ohio.* In Iowa a 
number of Methodist ministers were engaged in the work.* 

The third sect to which a considerable proportion of under- 
ground operators belonged was Calvinistic in its creed. All 
the various wings of Presbyterianism seem to have had repre- 
sentatives in this class of anti-slavery people. The sinfulness 
of slavery was a proposition that found uncompromising ad- 
vocates among the Presbjrterian ministers of the South in the 
early part of this century. In 1804 the Rev. James Gilliland 
removed from South Carolina to Brown County, Ohio, be- 
cause he had been enjoined by his presbytery and synod " to 
be silent in the pulpit on the subject of the emancipation of 
the African." ^ ''Other ministers of prominence, like Thomas 

1 H. N. McTyeire, D.D., History of Methodism, 1887, pp. 375, 536,601, 611. 

2 Conversation with Major J. C. Brand, Urbana, 0., Aug. 13, 1894. 

» Conversation with Thomas M. Hazlett, Freeport, Harrison Co., 0., 
Aug. 18, 1895. 

* Conversation with Mrs. Mary B. Carson, Piqua, O., Aug. 30, 1895. 

5 Letter of Professor F. L. Parker, Grinnell, la., Sept. 30, 1894. 

6 Wm. B. Sprague, D.D., Annals of the American Pulpit, "Vol. IV, 1858, 
p. 137 ; Rohert E. Thompson, D.D., History of the Presbyterian Churches in 
the United States, 1895, p. 122. 


D. Baird, David Nelson and John Rankin, left the South be- 
cause they were not free to speak against slavery., , In 1818 the 
Presbyterian Church declared the system " inconsistent with 
the law of God and totally irreconcilable with the gospel of 
Christ." This teaching was afterwards departed from in 1845 
when the Assembly confined its protest to admitting rather 
mildly that there was " evil connected with slavery," and de- 
clining to countenance " the traffic in slaves for the sake of 
gain; the separation of husbands and wives, parents and 
children, for the sake of filthy lucre or the convenience of the 
master ; or cruel treatment of slaves in any respect." The 
dissatisfaction caused by this evident compromise led to the 
formation of a new church in 1847 by the " New School " Pres- 
bytery of Ripley, Ohio, and a part of the " Old School " Pres- 
bytery of Mahoning, Pennsylvania. This organization was 
called the Free Church, and by 1860 had extended as far west 
as lowa.^ It is not strange that the region in Ohio where the 
Free Presbyterian Church was founded was plentifully dotted 
with stations of the Underground Railroad, and that the house 
of the Rev. John Rankin, who was the leader of the movement, 
was known far and wide as a place of refuge for the fugi- 
tive slave.2 At Savannah, Ashland County, Iberia, Morrow 
County, and a point near Millersburgh, Holmes County, 
Ohio, the work is associated with Free Presbyterian societies 
once existing in those neighborhoods.^ / In the northern part 
of Adams County, as also in the northern part of Logan 
County, Ohio, fugitives were received into the homes of Cove- 
nanters. Galesburg, Illinois, with its college was founded in 
1837 by Presbyterians and Congregationalists, who united to 
form one religious society under the name of the " Presbyte- 
rian Church of Galesburg." Opposition to slavery was one 
of the conditions of membership in this organization from 
the beginning. This intense anti-slavery feeling caused the 

1 Robert E. Thompson, D.D., History of the Presbyterian Churches in 
the United States, 1895, pp. 136, 137. 

2 Address by J. C. Leggett, in a pampblet entitled Rev. John Sankin, 
1892, p. 9. 

' Letter of Mrs. A. M. Buchanan, Savannah, 0., 1893 ; conversation with 
Thomas L. Smith, Fredericksburg, Wayne Co., O., Aug. 15, 1896. 


church to withdraw from the presbytery in 1855.^ From 
the starting of the colony until the time of the War fugitives 
from Missouri were conducted thither with the certainty of 
obtaining protection. Thus Galesburg became, probably, 
the principal underground station in Illinois.^ Joseph S. 
White, of New Castle, in western Pennsylvania, notes the 
circumstance that all the men with whom he acted in under- 
ground enterprises were Presbyterians.^ 

The religious centre in Ohio most renowned for the aid of 
refugees was the Congregational colony and college at Ober- 
lin. The acquisition of a large anti-slavery contingent from 
Lane Seminary in 1835 caused the college to be known from 
that time on as a " hotbed of abolitionism." Fugitives were 
directed thither from points more or less remote, and during 
the period from 1835 to 1860 Oberlin was a busy station,* 
receiving passengers from at least five converging lines.^ So 
notorious did the place become that a guide-board in the form 
of a fugitive running in the direction of the town was set up 
by the authorities on the Middle Ridge road, six miles north 
of Oberlin, and the sign of a tavern, four miles away, " was 
ornamented on its Oberlin face with a representation of a fugi- 
tive slave pursued by a tiger." ^ On account of the persistent 
ignoring of the law against harboring slaves by those connected ' '^'"^ 
with the institution, the existence of the college was put in ^Q., 
jeopardy. Ex-President Fairchild relates that, " A Democratic 
legislature at different times agitated the question of repeal- 
ing the college charter. The fourth and last attempt was 
made in 1843, when the bill for repeal was indefinitely post- 
poned in the House by a vote of thirty-six to twenty-nine."' 
The anti-slavery influence of Oberlin went abroad with its 

1 Professor George Chvirchill, in T%e Bepublican Segister, Galesburg, 111., 
March 5, 1887. 

2 Charles C. Chapman & Co., Sistory of Knox, County, Illinois, p. 210. 

' Joseph S. White, Note-book containing " Some Reminiscences of Slavery 
Times," New Castle, Pa., March 23, 1891. 

* James H. FairchOd, D.D., The Underground Bailroad, "Vol. IV of pub- 
lications of the Western Reserve Historical Society, Tract No. 87, p. 111. 

* See the general map. 

" James H. Fairchild, D.D., Oberlin, the Colony and the College, p. 117. 
''Ibid., p. 116. See also Henry Hovye, Historical Collections of Ohio, 
Vol. n, p. 383. 


students. Ex-President W. M. Brooks, of Tabor College, Iowa, 
a graduate of Oberlin, says, " The stations on the Underground 
Railroad in southwestern Iowa were in the region of Civil 
Bend, where the colony from Oberlin, Ohio, settled, which 
afterwards settled Tabor. . . . From this point (Civil Bend, 
now Percival) fugitives were brought to Tabor after 1852 ; 
here the entire population was in sympathy with the escaped 
fugitives ; . . . there was scarcely a man in the community 
who was not ready to do anything that was needed to help 
fugitives on their way to Canada." ^ The families that founded 
Tabor were " almost all of them Congregationaligts." ^ Pro- 
fessor L. F. Parker of GrinneU, Iowa, names Oberlin students 
in connection with Quakers as the chief groups in Iowa whose 
houses were open to fugitives.^ GrinneU itself was first 
settled by people that were mainly Congregationalists.* From 
the time of its foundation (1854) it was an anti-slavery centre, 
" well known and eagerly sought by the few runaways who 
camefromthe meagre settlements southwest. . .in Missouri."^ 

There were, of course, members of other denominations that 
befriended the slave ; thus, it is known that the Unitarian 
Seminary at Meadville, Pennsylvania, was a centre of under- 
ground work,^ but, in general, the lack of information con- 
cerning the church connections of many of the company of 
persons with whom this chapter deals prevents the drawing of 
any inference as to whether these individuals acted indepen- 
dently or in conjunction with little bands of persons of their 
own faith. 

There seems to have been no open appeal made to church 
organizations for help in behalf of fugitives except in Massa- 
chusetts. In 1851, and again in 1854, the Vigilance Commit- 
tee of Boston deemed it wise to send out circulars to the 
clergymen of the commonwealth, requesting that contribu- 

1 Letter of President W. M. Brooks, Tabor, la., Oct. 11, 1894. 

^ I. B. Richman, John Brown Among the Quakers, and Other Sketches, 
p. 15. 

a Letter of Professor L. P. Parker, GrinneU, Iowa, Sept. 30, 1894. 

* J. B. GrinneU, Men and Events of Forty Tears, p. 87. 

5 Letter of Professor L. F. Parker, GrinneU, Iowa, Sept. 30, 1894. 

' Conversation witii Professor Henry H. Barber, of Meadville, Pa., in 
Cambridge, Mass., June, 1897. 


tions be taken by them to be applied in mitigation of the 
misery caused by the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law. 
The boldness and originality of such an appeal, and more 
especially the evident purpose of its framers to create senti- 
ment by this means among the religious societies, entitle it to 
consideration. The first circular was sent out soon after the 
enactment of the odious law, and the second soon after the 
passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The results secured by 
the two circulars wiU be seen in the following letter from 
Francis Jackson, of Boston, to his fellow-townsmen and co- 
worker, the Rev. Theodore Parker. 

Boston, Aug. 27, 1854. 
Theodore Parker: 

Dear Friend, — The contributions of the churches in behalf of 
the fugitive slaves I think have about all come ia. I herewith 
inclose you a schedule thereof, amounting in all to about $800, 
being but little more than half as much as they contributed in 1851. 

The Mass. Register published in January, 1854, states the 
number of Religious Societies to be 1,547 (made up of 471 Ortho- 
dox, 270 Methodist, and all others 239). We sent circulars to the 
whole 1,547 ; only 78 of them have responded — say 1 in 20 — 
from 130 Universalist societies, nothing, from 43 Episcopal $4, 
and 20 Friends f 27 — the Baptists — four times as many of these 
societies have given now as gave in 1851, this may be because 
Brynes was a Baptist minister. 

The average amount contributed by 77 societies (deducting Froth- 
ingham of Salem) is $10 each; the 28th Congregationalist Church 
in this city d^d not take up a contribution, nevertheless, indi- 
vidual members thereof subscribed upwards of $300 ; they being 
infidel have not been reckoned with the churches. 

Of the cities and large towns scarce any have contributed. 
Of the 90 and 9 in Boston all have gone astray but 2 — I have 
not heard of our circular being read in one of them ; stUl it may 
have been. Those societies who have contributed, I judge were 

least able to do so. 

Francis Jackson. ^ 

The political affiliations of underground helpers before 
1840 were, necessarily, with one or the other of the old 
1 Theodore Parker's Serap-hook, Boston Public Library. 


parties — the Whig or the Democratic. As the Whig party 
was predominantly Northern, and as its sentiments were more 
distinctly anti-slavery than those of its rival, it is fair to sup- 
pose that the small band of early abolitionists were, most of 
them, allied with that party.^ The Missouri Compromise 
in 1820, one may surmise, enabled those that were wavering 
in their position to ally themselves with the party that was 
less likely to make demands in the interests of the slave 
power. In 1840 opportunity was given abolitionists to take 
independent political action by the nomination of a national 
Liberty ticket. At that time, and again in 1844, many under- 
ground operators voted for the candidates of the Liberty party, 
and subsequently for the Free Soil nominees.^ 

But it is not to be supposed that all friends of the fugitive 
joined the political movement against slavery. Many there 
were that regarded party action with disfavor, preferring the 
method of moral suasion. These persons belonged to the 
Quakers, or to the Garrisonian abolitionists. The Friends 
or Quakers refused as far as possible to countenance slavery, 
and when the political development of the abolition cause 
came they regretted it, and their yearly meetings withheld 
their official sanction, so far as known, from every political 
organization. Nevertheless, there were some members of the 
Society of Friends that were swept into the current, and 
became active supporters of the Liberty party .^ The most 
noted and influential of these was the anti-slavery poet, 
Whittier.* When, in 1860, the Republican party nominated 
Lincoln, "a large majority of the Friends, ati least in the 
North and West, voted for him." ^ 

The followers of Garrison that remained steadfast to the 
teachings and the example of their leader shunned all con- 
nection with the political abolitionist movement. Garrison 

^ This view agrees with the testimony gathered by correspondence from 
surviving abolitionists. 

2 This statement is based on a mass of correspondence. 

"Professor A. C. Thomas on "The Society of Priends," in American 
Church History, Vol. XII, 1894, pp. 284, 285. 

* Oliver Johnson, William Lloyd Garrison and His Times, 1879, p. 322. 

' Professor A. C. Thomas, in Ainerican Church History, Vol. XII, p. 285. 


never voted but once,i and by 1854 had gone so far in his 
denunciation of slavery that he burned the Constitution of 
the United States at an open-air celebration of the abolitionists 
at Framingham, Massachusetts.^ To his dying day he seems 
to have believed "that the cause would have triumphed 
sooner, in a political sense, if the abolitionists had continued 
to act as one body, never yielding to the temptation of form- 
ing a political party, but pressing forward in the use of the 
same instrumentalities which were so potent from 1831 to 
1840." 3 

The abolitionists were ill-judged by their contemporaries, 
and were frequently subjected to harsh language and occa- 
sionally to violent treatment by persons of supposed respect- 
ability. The weight of opprobrium they were called upon to 
bear tested their great strength of character. If the probity, 
integrity and moral courage of this abused class had been 
made the criteria of their standing they would have been 
held from the outset in high esteem by their neighbors. 
However, they lived to see the days of their disgrace turned 
into days of triumph. " The muse of history," says Rhodes, 
"has done full justice to the abolitionists. Among them 
were literary men, who have known how to present their 
cause with power, and the noble spirit of truthfulness per- 
vades the abolition literature. One may search in vain for 
intentional misrepresentation. Abuse of opponents and criti- 
cism of motives are common enough, but the historians of 
the abolition movement have endeavored to relate a plain, 
honest tale ; and the country has accepted them and their 
work at their true value. Moreover, a cause and its pro- 
moters that have been celebrated in the vigorous lines of 
Lowell and sung in the impassioned verse of Whittier will 
always* be of perennial memory."* 

' Contempt was not the only hardship that the abolitionist 
had to face when he admitted the fleeing black man within 
his door, but he braved also the existing laws, and was some- 

1 Life of Garrison, by his cMdren, Vol. I, p. 455. ' 

2 Ibid., Vol. Ill, p. 412. 

' Oliver Johnson, William Lloyd Garrison and His Times, p. 310. 

* History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850, Vol. I, p. 75. 


times compelled to suffer the consequences for disregarding 
the slaveholder's claim of ownership. In 1842 the prosecu- 
tion of John Van Zandt, of Hamilton County, Ohio, was 
begun for attempting to aid nine slaves to escape. The case 
was tried first in the Circuit Court of the United States, and 
then taken by appeal to the Supreme Court. The suits were 
not concluded when the defendant died in May, 1847. The 
death of the plaintiff soon after left the case to be settled by 
administrators, who agreed that the costs, amounting to one 
thousand dollars, should be paid from the possessions of the 
defendant.^ The judgments against Van Zandt under the 
Fugitive Slave Law amounted to seventeen hundred dollars.^ / 
In 1847 several members of a crowd that was instrumental 
in preventing the seizure of a colored family by the name of 
Crosswhite, at Marshall, Michigan, were indicted under the 
Fugitive Slave Law of 1793. Two trials followed, and at the 
second trial three persons were convicted, the verdict against 
them amounting, with expenses and costs, to six thousand 
dollars.^ In 1848 Daniel Kauffman, of Cumberland County, 
Pennsylvania, sheltered a family of thirteen slaves in his barn, 
and gave them transportation northward. He was tried, and 
sentenced to pay two thousand dollars in fine and costs. 
Although this decision was reversed by the United States 
Supreme Court, a new suit was instituted in the Circuit 
Court of the United States and a judgment was rendered 
against Kauffman amounting with costs to more than four 
thousand dollars. This sum was paid, in large part if not 
altogether, by contributions.* In 1854 Rush R. Sloane, a 
lawyer of Sandusky, Ohio, was tried for enabling seven fugi- 
tives to escape after arrest by their pursuers. The two 
claimants of the slaves instituted suit, but one only obtained 
a judgment, which amounted to three thousand dollars and 

1 Letter of N. L. Van Sandt, Clarinda, Iowa. (Mr. N. L. Van Sandt is 
the son of John Van Zandt.) See also Wilson's Bise and Fall of the Slave 
Power, Vol. I, pp. 475, 476 ; T. R. Cobb, Historical Sketches of Slavery, 
p. 207 ; M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 42. 

2 See pp. 274, 275, Chapter IX. 

* Pamphlet proposing a " Defensive League of Freedom," signed by Ellis 
Gray Loring and others, of Boston, pp. 6, 6. See Chapter IX, p. 276. 

* Ibid. ' 


costs.^ The arrest of the fugitive, Anthony Burns, in Boston, 
in the same year, was the occasion for indignation meetings at 
Faneuil and ileionaon Halls, which terminated in an attempt 
to rescue the unfortunate negro. Theodore Parker, Wendell 
Phillips and T. W. Higginson took a conspicuous part in 
these proceedings, and were indicted with others for riot. 
When the first case was taken up the counsel for the defence 
made a motion that the indictment be quashed. This was 
sustained by the court, and the affair ended by all the cases 
being dismissed.^ 

These and other similar cases arising from the attempted 
enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act in various parts of the 
country led to the proposal of a Defensive League of Free- 
dom. A pamphlet, issued soon after the rendition of Burns, 
by Ellis Gray Loring, Samuel Cabot, Jr., Henry J. Prentiss, 
John A. Andrew and Samuel G. Howe, of Boston, and James 
Freeman Clarke, of Roxbury, Massachusetts, stated the object 
of the proposed league to be " to secure all persons claimed 
as fugitives from slavery, and to all persons accused of violat- 
ing the Fugitive Slave Bill the fullest legal protection ; and 
also indemnify all such persons against costs, fines, and ex- 
penses, whenever they shall seem to deserve such indemnifi- 
cation." The league was to act as a " society of mutual pro- 
tection and every member was to assume his portion of such 
penalties as would otherwise fall with crushing weight on a 
few individuals." Subscriptions were to be made by the mem- 
bers of the organization, and five per cent of these subscrip- 
tions was to be called for any year when it was needed.® 
How much service this association actually performed, or 
whether, indeed, it got beyond the stage of being merely pro- 
posed is not known ; in any event, the fact is worth noting 
that men of marked ability, distinction and social connection 

1 5 McLean's United States Beports, p. 64 et seq. ; see also The Firelands 
Pioneer, July, 1888 ; account by Rush R. Sloane, pp. 47-49 ; account by 
H. E. Paden, pp. 21, 22 ; Chapter IX, pp. 276, 277. 

2 Commonwealth, June 28, 1854 ; M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 
pp. 45, 46 ; Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. II, pp. 443, 444. 
See Chapter X, pp. 331-333. 

= Pamphlet proposing a "Defensive League of Freedom," pp. 1, 3, 11 
and 12. 


were forming societies, like the Defensive League of Freedom, 
and the various vigilance committees, for the purpose of de- 
feating the Fugitive Slave Act. 

Among the underground helpers there are a number of 
notable persons that have admitted with seeming satisfaction 
their complicity in disregarding the Fugitive Slave Law. A 
letter from Frederick Douglass, the famous Maryland bond- 
man and anti-slavery orator, says : " My connection with the 
Underground Railroad began long before I left the South, 
and was continued as long as slavery continued, whether I 
lived in New Bedford, Lynn [both in Massachusetts], or 
Rochester, N.Y. In the latter place I had as many as eleven 
fugitives under my roof at one time." ^ In his autobiography 
Mr. Douglass declares concerning his work in this connection : 
"My agency was all the more exciting and interesting be- 
cause not altogether free from danger. I could take not a 
step in it without exposing myself to fine and imprisonment, 
. . . but in face of this fact, I can say, I never did more con- 
genial, attractive, fascinating, and satisfactory work."^ Dr. 
Alexander M. Ross, a Canadian physician and naturalist, who 
has received the decorations of knighthood from several of 
the monarchs of Europe in recognition of his scientific dis- 
coveries, spent a considerable part of his time from 1856 to 
1862 in spreading a knowledge of the routes leading to Can- 
ada among the slaves of the Soutli.^ Dr. Norton S. Towns- 
hend, one of the organizers of the Ohio State University and 
for years professor of agriculture in that institution, acted as 
a conductor on the Underground Railroad while he was a 
student of medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio.* Dr. Jared P. Kirt- 
land, a distinguished physician and scientist of Ohio, kept a 
station in Poland, Mahoning County, where he resided from 
1823 to 1837.5 

Harriet Beecher Stowe gained the intimate knowledge of 

1 Letter of Frederick Douglass, Anacostia, D.C., March 27, 1893. 
" Life of Frederick Douglass, 1881, p. 271. 

* Ross, Recollections and Experiences of an Abolitionist, pp. 30-44, 67-71, 
121-132 ; also letters of Alexander M. Ross, Toronto, Ont. 

* Conversations with Professor N. S. Townshend, Columhus, O. 

6 Conversation with Miss Mary L. Morse, Poland, O., Aug. 11, 1892 j letter 
of Mrs. Emma Kirtland Hine, Poland, O., Jan. 23, 1897. 



the methods of the friends of the slave she displays in Uncle 
Tom's Cabin thiough her association with some of the most 
zealous abolitionists of southern Ohio. Her own house on 
Walnut Hills, Cincinnati, was a refuge whence persons whose 
types are portrayed in George and Eliza, the boy Jim and 
his mother, were guided by her husband and brother a por- 
tion of the way towards Canada.^ Colonel Thomas Went- 
worth Higginson, the essayist and author, while stationed as 
the pastor of a free church in Worcester, Massachusetts, from 
1852 to 1858, often had fugitives directed to his care. In a 
recent letter he writes of having received on one occasion a 
"consignment of a young white slave woman with two white 
children " from the Rev. Samuel J. May, who had put her 
"into the hands, for escort, of one of the most pro-slavery 
men in Worcester." The pro-slavery man, of course, did not 
have a suspicion that he was acting as conductor on the 
Underground Railroad.^ 

Joshua R. Giddings, for twenty years in Congress an ardent 
advocate of the abolition of slavery, kept a particular chamber 
in his house at Jefferson, Ohio, for the use of refugees.^ Some- 
times when passing through Alliance, Ohio, Mr. Giddings 
found opportunity to call upon his friend, I. Newton Peirce, 
to whom he contributed money for the transportation of run- 
away slaves by rail from that point to Cleveland.* What his 
views were of the irritating law of 1850, he declared on the 
floor of the House of Representatives, February 11, 1852, in 
the following words : " . . . Let me say to Southern men ; 
It is your privilege to catch your own slaves, if any one catches 
them. . . . When you ask us to pay the expenses of arrest- 
ing your slaves, or to give the President authority to appoint 
officers to do that dirty work, give them power to compel our 
people to give chase to the panting bondman, you overstep 
the bounds of the Constitution, and there we meet you, and 
there we stand and there we shall remain. We shall protest 

' See Chapter X, pp. 

2 Letter of T. W. Higginson, Dublin, N.H., July 24, 1896. 
' Conversation witii J. Addison Giddings, Jefferson, 0., Aug. 9, 1892. 
* Letter of I. Newton Peirce, Folcroft, Sliaron Hill P.O., Pa., Feb. 1, 


against such indignity ; we shall proclaim our abhorrence of 
such a law. Nor can you seal or silence our voices." ^ 

Thaddeus St^vens, a leading lawyer of Pennsylvania, who 
rendered the cause of abolition distinguished service in Con- 
gress, where he gained the title of the "great commoner," 
entered upon the practice of his profession at Gettysburg in 
1816, and soon became known as a friend of escaping slaves. 
His removal to Lancaster in 1842 did not take him off the 
line of flight, and he continued to act as a helper. The woman 
that " kept house for him for more than twenty years, and 
nursed him at the close of his life, was one of the slaves he 
helped to freedom." ^ 

James M. Ashley, member of Congress from Ohio for over 
nine years, and his successor in the House, Richard Mott, a 
Quaker, were confederates in their violation of the Slave Act 
at Toledo, Ohio. Mr. Ashley began his service in behalf of 
the blacks early in life. As a youth of seventeen in Kentucky, 
he helped two companies across 'the Ohio River, one company 
of seven persons, and the other of five.^ Sidney Edgerton, 
who was elected to Congress from Ohio on the Free Soil 
ticket in 1858, and four years after was appointed governor 
of Montana Territory by President Lincoln, assisted his father 
in the befriending of slaves at Tallmadge, Summit County, 
Ohio.* Jacob M. Howard, afterwards United States senator 
from Michigan, was one of the principal operators at Detroit.^ 
General Samuel Fessenden, of Maine, who received the nomina- 
tion of the Liberty party for the governorship of his state, and 
later for Congress, and was during forty years the leading 
member of the bar in Maine, gave escaped bondmen reaching 
Portland a hearty welcome to his house on India Street.^ In 
Vermont there were a number of men prominent in public 
affairs that were actively engaged in underground enterprises. 

1 George W. Julian, T!ie Life of Joshua JR. Giddings, 1892, p. 289. 

2 Smedley, Underground Railroad, pp. 36, 38, 46. 

s Conversation with the Hon. James M. Ashley, Toledo, C, July, 1894. 
* Conversation with ex-Governor Sidney Edgerton, Akron, O. , Aug. 16, 

5 Conversation with Judge J. W. Finney, Detroit, Mich., July 27, 1895. 
« Letter of S. T. Pickard, Portland, Me., Nov. 18, 1893. 


Colonel Jonathan P. Miller,of Montpelier, who went to Greece, 
and assisted that country in its uprising in the twenties, served 
as a member of the Vermont legislature in 1833, and took part 
in the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in 18-10, was among 
the early helpers in New England. Lawrence Brainerd, for 
several years candidate for governor of Vermont, and later 
chosen to the United States Senate as a Free Soiler, gave 
shelter to the wanderers at St. Albans, where thej'' were almost 
within sight of "the Promised Land."^ Others were the 
Rev. Alvah Sabin, elected to Congress in 1853, who kept a 
station at the town of Georgia, the Hon. Joseph Poland of 
Montpelier, the Hon. William Sowles of Swanton, the Hon. 
John West of Morristown and the Hon. A. J. Russell of 

Gerrit Smith, the famous philanthropist, kept open house 
for fugitives in a fine old mansion at Peterboro, New York. 
He was one of the prime movers in the organization of the 
Liberty party at Arcade, New York, in 1840, and was its 
candidate for the presidency in 1848 and in 1852. He was 
elected to Consrress in 1853 and served one term. It is said 
that during the decade 1850 to 1860 he " aided habitually in 
the escape of fugitive slaves and paid the legal expenses of 
persons accused of infractions of the Fugitive Slave Law."^ 
The Rev. Owen Lovejoy, brother of the martyr Elijah P. 
Lovejoy, served four terms in the national House of Repre- 
sentatives. On one occasion he was taunted by some pro- 
slavery members of the House with being a " nigger-stealer." 
In a speech made February 21, 1859, Mr. Lovejoy, referring 
to these accusations, said : " Is it desired to call attention to 
this fact — of my assisting fugitive slaves ? . . . Owen Love- 
joy lives at Princeton, Illinois, three-quarters of a mile east 
of the village, and he aids every fugitive that comes to his 
door and asks it. Thou invisible demon of slavery, dost thou 
think to cross my humble threshold, and forbid me to give 
bread to the hungry and shelter to the houseless ! I bid you 

1 Letter of Aldis 0. Brainerd, St. Albans, Vt., Oct. 21, 1895. 

2 Letter of Joseph Poland, Jlontpelier, Vt., April 7, 1897. 

' O. B. Erothingham, Life of Gerrit Smith; National Cyclopedia of Ameri- 
can Biography, Vol. II, pp. 322, 323. 


defiance in the name of my God ! " ^ Josiah B. Grinnell, who 
represented a central Iowa district in the Thirty-eighth and 
the Thirty-ninth congresses, had a chamber in his house at 
Grinnell that came to be called the "liberty room." John 
Brown, while on his way to Canada with a band of Missouri 
slaves, in the winter of 1858-1859, stacked his arms ia this 
room, and his company of fugitives slept there.^ Mr. Grinnell 
relates of the members of this party, " They came at night, 
and were the darkest, saddest specimens of humanity I have 
ever seen, glad to camp on the floor, while the veteran was 
a night guard, with his dog and a miniature arsenal ready 
for use on alarm. . . ." ^ 

Thurlow Weed, the distinguished journalist and political 
manager, even in his busiest hours had time to afford relief 
to the underground applicant. One who knew Mr. Weed 
intimately relates the following incident : " On one occasion 
when several eminent gentlemen were waiting [to see the 
journalist] they were surprised and at first much vexed, by 
seeing a negro promptly admitted. The negro soon reap- 
peared, and hastily left the house, when it was learned that 
he was a runaway slave, and had been aided in his flight for 
liberty by the man who was too busy to attend to Cabinet 
officers, but had time to say words of encouragement and 
present means of support to a flying fugitive."* Sydney 
Howard Gay, for several years managing editor of the New 
York Tribune, and subsequently on the editorial staff of the 
New York Post and the Chicago Tribune, was an efficient 
agent of the Underground Railroad while in charge of the 
Anti-Slavery Standard, which he conducted in New York 
City from 1844 to 1857.^ 

Among the clergymen that made it a part of their religious 
duty to minister to the needs of the exiles from the South, 
were John Rankin, Samuel J. May and Theodore Parker. 

I Pamphlet of the Rev. D. Heagle, entitled TTie Great Anti- Slavery Agi- 
tator, Hon. Owen Lovejoy, pp. 16, 17, 34, 35. * 

" J. B. Grinnell, Men and Events of Forty Years, p. 207. 
8 Ibid., pp. 217, 218. 

* T. W. Barnes, Life of Thurlow Weed, 1884, Vol. II, p. 238. 
' Wilson, Else and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. II, p. 52. 


Mr. Rankin, a native of Tennessee, early developed his anti- 
slavery views in Kentucky, where from 1817 to 1821 he 
served as pastor of two Presbyterian churches at the town of 
Carlisle. During the next forty-four yeare he resided at Rip- 
ley, Ohio, in a neighborhood frequented by runaways.^ Doubt- 
less he became a patron of these midnight visitors at the time 
of his location in Ripley. In 1828 he established himself in 
a house situated upon the crest of a hill just back of the town 
and overlooking the Ohio River. For many years the lights 
beaming through the windows of this parsonage were hailed 
by slaves fleeing from the soil of Kentucky as beacons to guide 
them to a haven of safety.^ . ' 

Samuel J. May, for many years a prominent minister in 
the Unitarian Church, writes : " So long ago as 1834, when I 
was living in the eastern part of Connecticut, I had fugitives 
addressed to my care. . . . Even after I came to reside in 
Syracuse [New York] I had much to do as a station-keeper 
or conductor on the Underground Railroad, until slavery was 
abolished by the proclamation of President Lincoln. . . . 
Fugitives came to me from Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, 
Tennessee and Louisiana. They came, too, at all hours of 
day and night, sometimes comfortably, yes, and even hand- 
somely clad, but generally in clothes every way unfit to be 
worn, and in some instances too unclean and loathsome to be 
admitted into my house." ^ 

Theodore Parker, the learned theologian and iconoclast of 
Boston, often deserted his study that he might work in the 
cause of humanity. In his Journal, under the date October 
23, 1850, Mr. Parker wrote : " . . . The first business of the 
anti-slavery men is to help the fugitives ; we, like Christ, are 
to seek and save that which is lost." * In an unsigned note 
written in 1851 to his friend Dr. Francis, Mr. Parker says : — 

... I have got some nice books (old ones) coming across 
the water. But, alas me ! such is the state of the poor fugitive 

1 William Bimey, James G. Birney and Sis Times, p. 435. 

* J. C. Leggett, in a pamphlet entitled Bev. John Rankin, 1892, pp. 8, 9 ; 
see also History of Brown County, Ohio, p. 443. 

• BecoUections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 297. 

♦ John Weiss, Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker, 1864, p. 95. 


slaves, that I must attend to living men, and not to dead books, 
and all this winter my time has been occupied with these poor 
souls. The Vigilance Committee appointed me spiritual counsellor 
of all fugitive slaves in Massachusetts while in peril. . . . The 
Fugitive Slave Law has cost me some months of time already. I 
have refused about sixty invitations to lecture aud delayed the 
printing of my book — for that ! Truly the land of the pilgrims 
is in great disgrace ! 

Yours truly.' 

Among the underground workers there were two whose 
principal object in life seems to have been to assist fugitive 
slaves. These two organizers of underground tiavel were 
Levi Coffin, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Thomas Garrett, of Wil- 
mington, Delaware, both lifelong members of the Society of 
Friends, both capable business men, both able to number the 
unfortunates they had succored in terius of thousands. 

Thomas Garrett was born in Pennsylvania in 1789, and 
espoused the cause of emancipation at the age of eighteen, 
when a colored woman in the employ of his father's family 
was kidnapped. He succeeded in rescuing the woman from 
the hands of her abductors, and from that time on made it 
his special mission to aid negroes in their attempts to gain 
freedom. In 1822 he removed to Wilmington, Delaware, and 
during the next forty years his efforts in behalf of fugitives 
were unremitting. He was not so fortunate as Levi Coffin 
in escaping the penalties of the Fugitive Slave Law; an open 
violation of the law got him into difficulty in 1848. He was 
tried on four counts before Judge Taney, and his entire prop- 
erty was swallowed up in fines amounting to eight thousand 
dollars. There is a tradition that the presiding judge admon- 
ished Garrett to take his loss as a lesson and in the future 
to desist from breaking the laws ; whereupon the aged Quaker 
stoutly replied : " Judge, thou hast not left me a dollar, but 
I wish to say to thee, and to all in this court-room, that if 
any one knows of a fugitive who wants a shelter and a friend, 
send him to Thomas Garrett and he will befriend him." ^ Al- 

1 John Weiss, Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker, 1864, p. 96. 

2 Lillie B. 0. Wyman, in New England Magazine, March, 1896, p. 112 ; 
William Still, Underground Bailroad Records, pp. 623-641 ; R. C. Smedley, 


though sixty years of age when misfortune befel him, Mr. 
Garrett was successful in again acquiring a competence 
through the kindness of fellow-townsmen in advancing him 
capital with which to make a fresh start. Though satisfied, 
he was wont to think that his real work in life was never 
finished. " The war came a little too soon for my business. 
I wanted to help off three thousand slaves. I had only got up 
to twenty-seven hundred ! " 

/ Mr. Coffin was a native of North Carolina. Born in 1798, 
he was while still a boy moved to assist in the escape of 
slaves by witnessing the cruel treatment the negroes were 
compelled to endure. In 1826 he settled in Wayne County, 
Indiana, on the line of the Underground Road, and such was 
his activity that his house at New Garden (now Fountain 
City) soon became the converging point of three principal 
routes from Kentucky. In 1847 Mr. Coffin removed to 
Cincinnati for the purpose of opening a store where goods 
produced by free labor only should be sold. His relations 
with the humane work were maintained, and the genial but 
fearless Quaker came to be known generally by the fictitious 
but happy title. President of the Underground Railroad. It 
has been said of Mr. Coffin that " for thirty-three years he 
received into his house more than one hundred slaves every 
year." ^ In 1863 the Quaker philanthropist assisted in the 
establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau. In the following 
year and again in 1867, he visited Europe as agent for the 
Western Freedmen's Aid Commission. When the adoption of 
the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution was celebrated 
in Cincinnati by colored citizens and their friends, Mr. Coffin 
was one of those called upon by the chairman to address 
the great meeting. In response, the veteran station-keeper 
explained how he had obtained the title of President of the 
Underground Road. He said, " The title was given to me 
by slave-hunters, who could not find their fugitive slaves 
after they got into my hands. I accepted the office thus 
conferred upon me, and . . . endeavored to perform my 

Underground Bailroad, pp. 237-245 ; M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 
p. 60. 

1 Beminiscences of Levi Coffin, 2d ed., p. 694. 


duty faithfully. Government has now taken the work out 
of our hands. The stock of the Underground Railroad has 
gone down in the market, the business is spoiled, the road is 
now of no further use." ^ He then amid much applause 
resigned his office, and declared the operations of the Under- 
ground Railroad at an end. 

^ Beminiscences of Levi Coffin, p. 712. , 





Thekb are many features of the Underground Railroad 
that can best be understood by means of a geographical 
representation of the system. Such a representation it has 
been possible to make by piecing together the scraps of 
information in regard to various routes and parts of routes 
gathered from the reminiscences of a large number of abo- 
litionists. The more or less limited area in which each 
agent operated was the field within which he was not "only 
willing, but was usually anxious, to confine his knowledge 
of underground activities. Ignorance of one's accomplices 
beyond a few adjoining stations was naturally felt to be a 
safeguard. The local character of the information resulting 
from such precautions places the investigator under the 
necessity of patiently studyiiig his materials for what may 
be called the cumulative evidence in regard to the geography 
of the system. It is because the evidence gathered has been 
cumulative and corroborative that a general map can be pre- 
pared. But a map thus constructed cannot, of course, be 
considered complete, for it cannot be supposed that after the 
lapse of a generation representatives of all the important 
lines and branches could be discovered. Nevertheless, how- 
ever much the map may fall short of showing the system in 
its completeness, it will be found to help the reader materially 
in his attempt to realize the extent and importance of this 

The underground system, in accordance with the statement 

of James Freeman Clarke, is commonly understood to have 

. extended from Kentucky and Virginia across Ohio, and from 

Maryland through Pennsylvania, New York and New Eng- 

I 113 


land to Canada.i But this desciiption is inadequate, for it 
fails to include the states west of Ohio. Henry Wilson 
extends the field westward by asserting that the " territory 
embraced by the Middle States and all the Western States 
east of the Mississippi . . . was dotted over with ' stations,' " 
and " covered with a network of imaginary routes, not found 
... in the railway guides or on the railway maps;"^ and 
in another place he quotes the Rev. Asa Turner, a home 
missionary, who went to Illinois in 1830, who says: "Lines 
were formed through Iowa and Illinois, and passengers were 
carried from station to station . . . till they reached the 
Canada line."^ The association of Kansas with the two 
states just named as a channel for th» escape of runaways 
from the southwestern slave section, is made by Mr. Richard 
J. Hinton.* The addition of one other state. New Jersey, is 
necessary to complete the list of Northern states involved in 
the Underground Railroad system.® This region, which forms 
nearly one quarter of the present area of the Union, consti- 
tuted the irregular zone of free soil intervening between 
Southern slavery and Canadian liberty. 

The conditions that determined the number and distribu- 
tion of stations throughout this region are clearly discernible 
even in the incomplete data with which we are forced to be 
content. It is safe to assert that in Ohio the conditions 
favorable to the development of a large number of stations, 
and the dissemination of these throughout the state, existed 
in a measure and combination not reproduced in the case of 
any other state. Ohio's geographical boundary gave it a long 
line of contact with slave territory. It bordered Kentucky 
with about one hundred and sixty miles of river frontage; 
and Virginia with perhaps two hundred and twenty-five miles 
or more, and crossings were made at almost any point. The 
character of the early settlements of Ohio is a factor that must 
not be overlooked. The northern and eastern parts of the 

5 Anti-Slavery Days, p. 81 ; M. G. MoDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 61. 

* Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. II, p. 66. 
"Ibid., p. 68. 

* John Brov)n and His Men, p. 173. 

* See pp. 123-126, this chapter. 


state were dotted over with many little communities where 
New England ideas prevailed ; the southern and southwestern 
parts came in time to be well sprinkled with the homes of 
Quakers, Covenanters and anti-slavery Southerners and some 
negroes ; the central and southeastern portions contained a 
number of Quaker settlements. The remote position and 
sparse settlement of the northwestern section of the state 
probably explain the failure to find many traces of routes in 
that region. Family ties, church fellowship, an aggressive 
anti-slavery leadership, — journalistic and political, — the leav- 
ening influence of institutions like Oberlin College, Western 
Reserve College and Geneva College, all contributed to propa- 
gate a sentiment that was ready to support the fleeing slave ; 
and thus Ohio became netted over with a large number of 
interlacing lines of escape for fugitive slaves. The western 
portions of Pennsylvania and New York, and the eastern por- 
tion of Indiana shared with Ohio these favorable conditions, 
and one is not surprised to find many stations in these regions. 
The same'is true of northern and Avest^central Illinois, where 
many persons of New England descent settled. The few 
lines known in southwestern Illinois were developed by a few 
Covenanter communities. The geographical position of the 
most southern portions of Illinois and Indiana determined the 
character of the population settling there, and thus rendered 
underground enterprises in those regions more than ordinarily 
dangerous. There may have been stations scattered through 
those parts, but if so, one can scarcely hope now to discover 
them. The great number of routes in southeastern Pennsyl- 
vania, and the stream of slave emigration flowing through 
New Jersey to New York are to be attributed largely to the 
untiring activity of a host of Quakers, assisted by some 
negroes. The cooperation of some zealous station-keepers 
in the neighboring slave territory seems to account partly for 
the multitude of stations that appear upon the map between 
the lower Susquehanna and Delaware rivers. Whether there 
was any underground work done in the central and northern 
parts of Pennsylvania is not known ; the indications are that 
there was not much; the stations said to have existed at 
Milroy, Altoona, Work's Place and Smicksburg probably 


connected with lines running in a northwesterly direction to 
Lake Erie. This is known to have been true of the stations 
at Greensburg, Indiana, Clearfield and intermediate points, 
which were linked in with stations leading to Meadville and 
Erie. The remoteness of New York and of the New England 
states from the slaveholding section explains the comparar 
tively small number of stations found in those states. Iowa, 
which bordered on slave territory, had only a small number 
of stations, for it was a new region, not long open to occupa- 
tion ; and only the southern part of the state was in the direct 
line of travel, which here was mostly eastward. There were 
a few places of deportation in southeastern Wisconsin for 
fugitives that had avoided Chicago, and followed the lake- 
shore or the Illinois River farther northward. A rather nar- 
row strip of Michigan, adjoining Indiana and Ohio, was 
dotted with stations. 

There were friends of the discontented slave in the South 
as well as in the North, although it cannot be said, upon the 
basis of the small amount of evidence at hand, that these 
were sufficient in number or so situated as to maintain regu- 
lar lines of escape northward. Doubtless many acts of kind- 
ness to slaves were performed by individual Southerners, but 
those were not, in most of the cases, known as the acts of 
persons cooperating to help the slave from point to point un- 
til freedom and safety should be reached. That there were 
regular helpers in the South engaged in concerted action, 
Samuel J. May, a station-keeper of wide information con- 
cerning the Road, freely asserts. In 1869 he wrote, " There 
have always been scattered throughout the slaveholding 
states individuals who have abhorred slavery, and have 
pitied the victims of our American despotism. These per- 
sons have known, or have taken pains to find out, others at 
convenient distances northward from their abodes who sym- 
pathized with them in commiserating the slaves. These 
sympathizers have known or heard of others of like mind 
still farther north, who again have had acquaintances in the 
free states that they knew would help the fugitive on his 
way to liberty. Thus lines of friends at longer or shorter 
distances were formed from many parts of the South to the 


very borders of Canada. . . . " ^ It is not easy to substan- 
tiate this statement ; and all that will be attempted here is 
the presentation of such examples as have been found of un- 
derground work on the part of persons living south of Mason 
and Dixon's line. Mr. Stephen B. Weeks is authority for 
the statement that " Vestal Coffin organized the Underground 
Railroad near the present Guilford College in 1819," and 
that " Addison Coffin, his son, entered its service as a con- 
ductor in early youth. . . . " ^ Levi Coffin, Vestal's cousin, 
helped many slaves from this region to reach the North 
before he moved to Indiana in 1826.^ In Delaware there 
seems to have been a well-defined route upon which the 
houses of John Hunn, of Middletown,* Ezekiel Hunn, of 
Camden, and Thomas Garrett, of Wilmington,^ were impor- 
tant stations. John Hunn speaks of himself as having been 
"superintendent of the Underground Railroad from Wil- 
mington down the Peninsula." ^ Maryland also had its line 
— perhaps its lines — of Road. One route ran overland 
from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia. Mr. W. B. Wil- 
liams, of Charlotte, Michigan, throws some light on this 
route. He says, " My uncle, Jacob Bigelow, was for several 
years previous to the war a resident of Washington, D.C. 
He was an abolitionist, and general manager of the Under- 
ground Railway from Washington to Philadelphia. . . ." ^ 
Mr. Robert Purvis tells of two market-women that were 
agents of the Underground Road in Baltimore, forwarding 
fugitives to the Vigilance Committee with which he was 
connected in Philadelphia.* The Quaker City was also a 
central station for points still farther south. Vessels en- 
gaged in the lumber trade plying between Newberne, North 
Carolina, and Philadelphia, were often supplied with slave 
passengers by the son of a slaveholder living at Newberne.® 

1 Eecollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict, pp. 296, 297. 
' Southern Quakers and Slavery, p. 242. 

• Ibid., p. 242. See also Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, pp. 12-31. 

• Smedley, Underground Bailroad, pp. 238, 244. ^ n,ia., p. 326. 
Letter of John Hunn, Wyoming, Del., Sept. 16, 1893. 

' In the Key to Uncle TonVs Cabin Is the facsimile of a letter addressed 
to him by a slave, pp. 171, 172. 

' E. C. Smedley, Underground Bailroad, p. 355, letter from Robert Purvis 
printed therein. ' Chapter III, p. 68. 


A slave at Petersburg, Virginia, was agent for that section 
of country, directing fugitives to William Still in Philadel- 
phia.i Eliza Bains, a slave-woman of Portsmouth, Virginia, 
sent numbers of her people to Boston and New Bedford by 
boat.2 Frederick Douglass declared that his connection 
with the Underground Railroad began long before he left the 
South.3 Harriet Tubman, the abductor, made use of stations 
at Camden, Dover, Blackbird, Middleton and New Castle in 
the State of Delaware on her way to Wilmington and Philar 
delphia.* The testimony of these various witnesses seems to 
show that underground routes existed in the South, but it 
is not sufficient in amount to enable one to trace extended 
courses of travel through the slaveholding states. 

It is apparent from the map that the numerous tributaries 
of the Ohio and the great valleys of the Appalachian range 
afforded many tempting paths of escape. These natural 
routes from slavery have been recognized and defined by a 
recent writer.^ " One," he says, " was that of the coast south 
of the Potomac, whose almost continuous line of swamps 
from the vicinity of Norfolk, Va., to the northern border of 
Florida afforded a refuge for many who could not escape and 
became 'marooned' in their depths, while giving facility to 
the more enduring their way out to the north star 
land. The great Appalachian range and its abutting moun- 
tains were long a rugged, lonely, but comparatively safe 
route to freedom. It was used, too, for many years. Doubt- 
less a knowledge of that fact, for John Brown was always 
an active railroad man, had very much to do, strategically 
considered, with the Capfain's decision to begin operations 
therein. Harriet Tubman''. . . was a constant user of the 
Appalachian route in her ^^fforts to aid escaping slaves.^ 

1 Wm. still, Underground JRailroaSi, p. 41. "The Underground Railroad 
brought away large numbers of passeiiMrs from Richmond, Petersburg, and 
Norfolk, and not a few of them lived cosaparatively within a hair's breadth 
of the auction block." Wm. Still, Under^ound Bailroad Records, p. 141. 

2 Conversation with Mrs. Elizabeth Cooley, a fugitive from Norfolk, Va., 
Boston, Mass., April 8, 1897. 

2 Letter of Frederick Douglass, Anacostia, D.C., March 27, 1893. 

* Conversation with Mrs. Tubman, Boston, Mass., April 8, 1897. 

' R. J. Hinton, John Brown and Mis Men, pp. 172, 173. 

^ Harriet Tubman has told the author that she did not travel by the 


, . . Underground Railroad operations culminating chiefly 
at Cleveland, Sandusky, and Detroit, led by broad a,nd defined 
routes through Ohio to the border of Kentucky. Through 
that State, into the heart of the Cumberland Mountains, 
northern Georgia, east Tennessee, and northern Alabama, 
the limestone caves of the region served a useful purpose. 
. . . The Ohio-Kentucky routes probably served more fugi- 
tives than others in the North. The valley of the Missis- 
sippi was the most westerly channel, until Kansas opened a 
bolder way of escape from the southwest slave section." 
These were the main channels of flight from the slave states ; 
but it must be remembered that escapes were continually 
taking place along the entire frontier between the two 
sections of the Union, the drift of travel being constantly 
towards those points where the homes of abolitionists or 
where negro settlements indicated initial stations on lines 
running north to freedom. The border counties of the slave 
states were thus subject to a steady loss of their dissatisfied 
bondmen. This condition is well represented in the case of 
several counties of Maryland, concerning which Mr. Smedley 
obtained information. He says, "The counties of Fred- 
erick, Carroll, Washington, Hartford and Baltimore, Md., 
emptied their fugitives into York and Adams counties across 
the line in Pennsylvania. The latter two counties had set- 
tlements of Friends and abolitionists. The slaves learned 
who their friends were in that part of the Free State; and it 
was as natural for those aspiring to liberty to move in that 
direction as for the waters of brooks to move toward larger 

Along the southern margin of the free states began those 
weU-defined trails or channels that have lent themselves to 

mountain route. In his book entitled The Underground Bailroad (p. 37), 
Mr. E. C. Smedley illustrates the value of the AUeghanies to the slaves of 
the regions through which they extend: "WilUam and Phoehe Wright re- 
sided during their entire Uves in a very old settlement of Friends, near the 
southern slope of South Mountain, a spur of the AUeghanies, which extends 
into Tennessee. This location placed them directly in the way to render 
great and valuable aid to fugitives, as hundreds, guided by that mountain 
range northward, came into Pennsylvania, and were directed to their home." 
' Underground Bailroad, p. 36. , 


representation upon the large map given herewith. In deal- 
ing with the tracings shown upon this map it will be best to 
consider the territory as divided into three regions, the first 
comprising the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New 
York ; the second, the New England states ; and the third, 
the five states created out of the Northwest Territory. This 
arrangement will, perhaps, admit of the introduction of some 
system into the discussion of what might otherwise prove a 
complicated subject. 

In point of time underground work seems to have devel- 
oped first in eastern Pennsylvania.^ Regular routes of travel 
began to be formed in the vicinity of Philadelphia about the 
middle of the first decade of the present century. It is said 
that "some cases of kidnapping and shooting of fugitives 
who attempted to escape occurred in Columbia, Pa., in 1804. 
This incited the people of that town, who were chiefly 
Friends or their descendants, to throw around the colored 
people the arm of protection, and even to assist those who 
were endeavoring to escape from slavery. . . . This gave 
origin to that organized system of rendering aid to fugitives 
which was afterward known as the ' Underground Railroad.' " 
Thus begun, the service rapidly extended, being greatly 
favored by the character of the population in southeastern 
Pennsylvania, which was largely Quaker, with here and 
there some important settlements of manumitted slaves. It 
was on account of the large number of runaways early resort- 
ing to Columbia that it became necessary to have an under- 
standing with regard to places of entertainment for them 
along lines leading to the Eastern states and to Canada, 
whither most of the fugitives were bound.^ There seems to 
have been scarcely any limitation upon the number of per- 
sons in Lancaster, Chester and Delaware counties willing to 
assume agencies for the forwarding of slaves ; hence this 
region became the field through which more routes were de- 

i See pp. 33 and 34, Chapter II. 

2 R. C. Smedley, Underground Railroad, pp, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. For a 
description of the routes of this region, our dependence is almost wholly 
upon Mr. Smedley, whose intimate knowledge of them was ohtained by con- 
versation and correspondence with many of the operators. Ibid., Preface, 
P- X. 


veloped in proportion to its extent than any other area in 
the Northern. states. It will be necessary to make use of a 
special map of the region in order to follow out the principal 
channels of escape and to discover the centres from which 
the Canada routes sprung.^ West of the Susquehanna River 
Gettysburg and York were the stations chiefly sought by 
slaves escaping from the border counties of Maryland. 
Along the western shore of the Chesapeake runaways passed 
northward to Havre de Grace, where they usually crossed the 
Susquehanna, and with others from the Eastern Shore found 
their way to established stations in the southern part of Lan- 
caster and Chester counties in Pennsylvania. From the 
territory adjacent to the Delaware the movement was to 
Wilmington, and thence north through Chester and Dela- 
ware counties. The routes developed in the three regions 
just indicated formed three systems of underground travel, 
the first of which may be called the western, the second, the 
middle, and the third, the eastern system. These systems 
comprised, besides the main roads indicated in heavy lines 
upon the map, numerous side-tracks and branches shown by 
the light lines. Their common goal was Phoenixville, the 
home of Elijah F. Pennypacker, and from here fugitives 
were sent to Philadelphia, Norristown, Quakertown, Reading 
and other stations as occasion required. While Phoenixville 
may be regarded as the central station for the three systems 
mentioned, it did not receive all the negroes escaping through 
this section, and Smedley says that " Hundreds were sent to 
the many branch stations along interlacing routes, and hun- 
dreds of others were sent from Wilmington, Columbia, and 
stations westward direct to the New England States and 
Canada. Many of these passed through the hands of the 
Vigilance Committee connected with the anti-slavery office 
in Philadelphia," ^ From this point one outlet led overland 
across New Jersey to Jersey City and New York ; another 

1 The special map of these counties ■will be found in a comer of the 
general map. 

2 The Underground Railroad, p. 209. For a description of the secret 
paths in southeastern Pennsylvania, see Smedley's book, pp. 30, 31 , 32, 33, 
34, 50, 53, 77, 85, 89, 90, 100, 132, 137, 142, 164, 172, 191, 192, 208, 217, 218, 
219, etc. 


outlet from Philadelphia, was the Reading Railroad, which 
also carried refugees from various stations along its course. 
How many steam railway extensions may have been con- 
nected with the underground tracks of southeastern Pennsyl- 
vania cannot be discovered. One such extension was the 
Northern Central Railroad from Harrisburg across the state 
to Elmira, New York.^ Another trans-state route in eastern 
Pennsylvania appears to have had its origin at or near Sads- 
bury, Chester County, and to have run overland to Bing- 
hamton. New York.^ The intermediate stations along this 
pathway are not known, although some disconnected places 
of resort in northeastern Pennsylvania^ may have consti- 
tuted a section of it. Lines of northern travel for fugitives 
also passed through Bucks County, but Dr. Edward H. 
Magill, formerly President of Swarthmore College, thinks 
these were " less clearly marked " than those running through 
Chester and Lancaster counties. He finds that friends of 
the slave in the middle section of Bucks County generally 
forwarded the negroes to Quakertown or even as far north, 
by stage or private conveyance, as Stroudsburg. From this 
point they sometimes went to Montrose or Friendsville, in 
Susquehanna County, near the southern boundary of the 
State of New York,* whence, together with fugitives from 
Wilkesbarre, and, perhaps, the Lehigh Valley, they were sent 
on to Gerrit Smith, at Peterboro in central New York, and 
thence to Canada.^ 

At the other end of Pennsylvania several routes and sec- 
tions of routes have been discovered. The most important 
of these seem to have been the roads resulting from the con- 
vergence of at least three well-defined lines of escape at 
Uniontown in southwestern Pennsylvania from the neigh- 

1 Letters of Mrs. Susan L. Crane, Elmira, N.Y., Aug. 27, and Sept. 14 
and 23, 1896 ; letters of John W. Jones, Elmira, N.Y., Dec. 17, 1896, and 
Jan. 16, 1897. 

2 Smedley, Underground Railroad, p. 91. 
' See the general map. 

* Article by Dr. Magill, entitled " When Men were Sold. The Under- 
ground Railroad in Bucks County," in The Bucks County Intelligencer, 
Feb. 3, 1898. Same article in the Friends' Intelligencer, Feb. 26, 1898. 

6 Letter of Horace Brewster, Montrose, Pa., March 20, 1898. 


boring counties of Virginia and Maryland. A map drawn by 
Mr. Amos M. JolIifEe, of Uniontown, shows that there were 
two courses leading northward from his neighborhood, both 
of which terminated at Pittsburg.^ From this point fugitives 
seem to have been sent to Cleveland by rail, or to have been 
directed to follow the Alleghany or the Ohio and its tributa- 
ries north. Investigation proves that friends were not lacking 
at convenient points to help them along to the main termi- 
nals for this region, namely, Erie and Buffalo, or across the 
border of the state to the much-used routes of the Western 
Reserve.^ East of the Alleghany River significant traces of 
underground work are found running in a northeasterly di- 
rection from Greensburg through Indiana County to Clear- 
field,^ a distance of seventy-five miles, and from Cumberland, 
Maryland, through Bedford and PleasantvUle to Altoona,* 
about the same distance. These fragmentary routes may 
have had connections with some of the fragmentary lines of 
western New York. From Clearfield an important branch is 
known to have run northwest to Shippenville and Franklin, 
and so to Erie, a place of deportation on the lake of the same 

New Jersey was intimately associated with Philadelphia 
and the adjoining section in the underground system, and 
afforded at least three important outlets for runaways from 
the territory west of the Delaware River. Our knowledge of 
these outlets is derived solely from the testimony of the Rev. 
Thomas Clement Oliver, who, like his father, travelled the 
New Jersey routes many times as a guide or conductor.^ 
Probably the most important of these routes was that leading 

1 Letter of Mr. JoUiffe, Nov. 17, 1895. 

2 Letter of John F. Hogue, Greenville, Pa., Nov. 25, 1895 ; letter of S. P. 
Stewart, Clark, Mercer Co., Pa., Dec. 26, 1895 ; letter of W. W. Walker, 
Makanda, Jackson Co., Bl., March 14, 1896 ; note-book of Joseph S. White, 
of New Castle, Pa., containing " Some Reminiscences of Slavery Times." 

" Letters of C. P. Rank, Cush Creek, Indiana Co., Pa., Dec. 25, 1896, and 
Jan. 4, 1897 ; letter of William Atcheson, DuBois, Pa., Jan. 11, 1897. 

* Letter of Wyett Perry, Bedford, Pa., Dec. 23, 1895 ; letter of John W. 
Rouse, Bedford, Pa., Nov. 25, 1895 ; letter of William M. Hall, Bedford, Pa., 
Nov. 30, 1895. 

« Conversation with William Edwards, Amherstburg, Ont., Aug. 3, 1895. 

• Conversation with Mr. Oliver, Windsor, Ont., Aug. 2, 1895. 


from Philadelphia to Jersey City and New York. From 
Philadelphia the runaways were taken across the Delaware 
River to Camden, where Mr. Oliver lived, thence they were 
conveyed northeast following the course of the river to Bur- 
lington, and thence in the same direction to Bordentown. In 
Burlington, sometimes called Station A, a short stop was 
made for the purpose of changing horses after the rapid drive 
of twenty miles from Philadelphia. The Bordentown station 
was denominated Station B east. Here the road took a more 
northerly direction to Princeton, where horses were again 
changed and the journey continued to New Brunswick. 
Just east of New Brunswick the conductors sometimes met 
with opposition in attempting to cross the Raritan River on 
their way to Jersey City. To avoid such interruption the 
conductors arranged with Cornelius Cornell, who lived on 
the outskirts of New Brunswick, and, presumably, near the 
river, to notify them when there were slave-catchers or spies 
at the regular crossing. On receiving such information they 
took a by-road leading to Perth Amboy, whence their prot^- 
g^s could be safely forwarded to New York City. When the 
way was clear at the Raritan the company pursued its course 
to Rahway ; here another relay of horses was obtained and 
the journey continued to Jersey City, where, under the care 
of John Everett, a Quaker, or his servants, they were taken 
to the Forty-second Street railroad station, now known as 
the Grand Central, provided with tickets, and placed on a 
through train for Syracuse, New York. The second route 
had its origin on the Delaware River forty miles below Phila- 
delphia, at or near Salem. This line, like the others to be 
mentioned later, seems to have been tributary to the Phila- 
delphia route traced above. Nevertheless, it had an indepen- 
dent course for sixty miles before it connected with the more 
northern route at Bordentown. This distance of sixty miles 
was ordinarily travelled in three stages, the first ending at 
Woodbury, twenty-five miles north of Salem, although the 
trip by wagon is said to have added ten miles to the estimated 
distance between the two places ; the second stage ended at 
Evesham Mount ; and the third, at Bordentown. The third 
route was called, from its initial station, the Greenwich line. 


This station is vividly described as having been made up of a 
circle of Quaker residences enclosing a swampy place that 
swarmed with blacks. One may surmise that it made a 
model station. Slaves were transported at night across the 
Delaware River from the vicinity of Dover, in boats marked 
by a yellow light hung below a blue one, and were met some 
distance out from the Jersey shore by boats showing the same 
lights. Landed at Greenwich, the fugitives were conducted 
north twenty-five miles to Swedesboro, and thence about the 
same distance to Evesham Mount. From this point they 
were taken to Mount Holly, and so into the northern or 
Philadelphia route. Still another branch of this Philadel- 
phia line is known. It constitutes the fourth road, and 
is described by Mr. Robert Purvis ^ as an extension of a route 
through Bucks County, Pennsylvania, that entered Trenton, 
New Jersey, from Newtown, and ran directly to New Bruns- 
wick and so on to New York. 

Mr. Eber M. Pettit, for many years a conductor of the 
Underground Railroad in western New York,^ asserts that 
the Road had four main lines across his state, and scores of 
laterals,^ but he nowhere attempts to identify these lines for 
the benefit of those less well informed than himself. Con- 
cerning what may be supposed to have been one of the lines, 
he speaks as follows : " The first well-established line of the 
U. G. R. R. had its southern terminus in Washington, D.C., 
and extended in a pretty direct route to Albany, N.Y., thence 
radiating in all directions to all the New England states, 
and to many parts of this state. . . . The General Super- 
intendent resided in Albany. . . . He was once an active 
member of one of the churches in Fredonia. Mr. T., his 
agent in Washington City, was a very active and efficient 
man ; the Superintendent at Albany was in daily communi- 
cation by mail with him and other subordinate agents at all 
points along the line." * Frederick Douglass, who was 
familiar with this Albany route during the period of his 
residence in Rochester, describes it as running through Phil- 

1 Conversation with Jlr. Purvis, Philadelphia, Dec. 23, 1895. 
^ Sketches in the History of the Underground Bailroad, 1879, Preface, 
p. xvi. 3 76 id. , p. xiv. * TSzU, p. 34. 


adelphia, New York, Albany, Rochester, and thence to Can- 
ada ; and he gives the name of the person at each station 
that was most closely associated in his mind with the work 
of the station. Thus, he says that the "fugitives were 
received in Philadelphia by William Still, by him sent to 
New York, where they were cared for by Mr. David Ruggles, 
and afterwards by Mr. Gibbs, . . . thence to Stephen Myers 
at Albany ; thence to J. W. Loguen, Syracuse ; thence to 
Frederick Douglass, Rochester ; and thence to Hiram 
Wilson, St. Catherines, Canada West." ^ Not all the ne- 
groes travelling by this route went as far as Rochester; 
some were turned north at Syracuse to the port of Oswego, 
where they took boat for Canada.^ The Rev. Charles B. Ray, 
a member of the Vigilance Committee of New York City, 
and editor of The Colored American, has left some testimony 
which corroborates that just given. He knew of a regular 
route stretching from Washington, by way of Baltimore and 
Philadelphia, to New York, thence following the Hudson to 
Albany and Troy, whence a branch ran westward to Utica, 
Syracuse and Oswego, with an extension from Syracuse to 
Niagara Falls. New York was a kind of receiving point 
from which fugitives were assisted to Albany and Troy, or, 
as sometimes happened, to Boston and New Bedford, or, 
when considerations of safety warranted it, were permitted 
to pass to Long Island.^ The lines that are said to have 
radiated from Albany are mentioned neither by Mr. Doug- 
lass nor by Mr. Ray, but we know from other witnesses 
that some of the fugitives sent to Troy found their way to 
places of refuge north and east. Mr. Martin I. Townsend, of 
Troy, writes that fugitives arriving at that city were supplied 
with money and forwarded either to Suspension Bridge, on 
the Niagara River, or by way of Vermont and Lake Cham- 
plain to Rouses Point.* It seems probable that another 

1 Letter of Frederick Douglass, Cedar Hill, Anacostia, D.C., Marcli 27, 

2 Letter of Joseph A. Allen, Medfield, Mass., Aug. 10, 1896. 

' Letter of Florence and Cordelia H. Ray, Woodside, L.I., April 12, 1897. 
See Sketch of the Life of Sev. Chas. B. Say, written by the Misses Ray. 
• Letters of Martin 1. Townsend, Troy, N.Y., Sept. 4 and 15, 1896. 


brancli of the secret thoroughfare followed the valley of the 
Hudson from Troy to the farm of John Brown, near North 
Elba among the Adirondacks. Mr. Richard H. Dana visited 
this frontier home of Brown one summer, and was informed 
by his guide that the country about there belonged to Gerrit 
Smith ; that it was settled for the most part by families of 
fugitive slaves, who were engaged in farming ; and that 
Brown held the position of a sort of ruler among them. The 
view was therefore credited that this neighborhood was one 
of the termini of the Underground Railroad." ^ 

Gerrit Smith, the friend and counsellor of Brown, lived at 
Peterboro, in central New York, where his house was an 
important station for runaway slaves. His open invitation 
to fugitives to come to Peterboro gave the post he main- 
tained great publicity, and many negroes resorted thither. 
From Peterboro they were sent in Mr. Smith's wagon to 
Oswego.2 A little to the east and north of this place of de- 
portation there were what may perhaps be called emergency 
stations at or near Mexico, New Haven, Port Ontario ^ and 
Cape Vincent.* From the place last named, and perhaps also 
from Port Ontario, fugitives took boat for Kingston.^ A 
route that came into operation much later than that with 

1 0. F. Adams, Life of Bickard Heni-y Dana, Vol. I, p. 155 ; History of 
Madison County, New York, by Mrs. X.. M. Hammond, p. 721. 

2 0. B. Frothingham, Life of Gerrit Smith, t^j^. 113, 114. 

3 Letter of O. J. Russell, Pulaski, N.T., July 29, 1896. 

* Mr. George C. Bragdon writes concerning the runaways harbored by his 
father, near Port Ontario : "I believe they usually went to Cape Vincent^ 
near the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and were taken over to Canada from 
there. ... I believe some of the slaves received by him were sent on from 
Peterboro by Gerrit Smith to Asa S. Wing or James C. Jackson (Mexico), 
and came from them to our house. They steered clear of the villages, as a 
rule. Our farm was favorably situated for concealing them and helping them 
on." Letter of George C. Bragdon, Rochester, N.Y., Aug. 11, 1896. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Smith MUler, the daughter of Gerrit Smith, says that in 
October, 1839, the " White Slave, Harriet," was taken by Mr. Federal Dana 
from her father's house directly to Cape Vincent, and that Mr. Dana wrote 
from that point: "I saw her pass the ferry this morning into Canada." 
Letter received from Mrs. Miller, Peterboro, N.Y., Sept. 21, 1896. 

' The fugitive Jerry McHenry, after his rescue in Syracuse, was hurried 
to Mexico, thence to Oswego, and from this point was transported across the 
lake to Kingston. May, Some Recollections of Our Anti-Slavery Conflict, 
pp. 378, 379. 


which the Peterboro station was connected was the Elmira 
route. In 1844, John W. Jones, an escaped slave from 
Virginia, settled in Elmira, and began, together with Mr. 
Jervis Langdon, a prominent citizen of the town, to receive 
fugitives. A few years later the Northern Central Railroad 
was constructed, and supplied a means of travel through 
western New York to Niagara Falls. Underground passen- 
gers forwarded by rail from Philadelphia, Harrisburg and 
Williamsport were sent on via the Northern Central to 
Canada.i In the counties of New York west and south of 
the Elmira route the map shows some disconnected stations 
and sections of Road. Not enough is known about these to 
suggest with certainty their connections. It is, however, 
evident that their trend is toward the short arm of the Prov- 
ince of Ontario, which is separated from the United States 
only by the Niagara River, with crossings favorable for fugi- 
tives at Buffalo, Black Rock, Suspension Bridge and Lewis- 
ton. In the angle of southwestern New York there were two 
routes, the objective point of which was Buffalo. One of 
these, by way of Westfield and Fredonia, hugged closely the 
shore of Lake Erie ; ^ the other, issuing by way of the Alle- 
ghany River from Franklin, Pennsylvania, ran through 
Jamestown and Ellington to Leon, where it branched, one 
division going to Fredonia and so on northward, whilst the 
other seems to have followed a more direct course to Buf- 

Notwithstanding the unfavorable position for this work of 
the New England states, a considerable number of fugitive 
slaves found their way through these states to Canada. A 
part of them came through Pennsylvania and New York. 
Smedley states, as already noted, that hundreds were sent 
from Wilmington, Columbia, and other points to the New 

- Letters of Mrs. Susan L. Crane, Elmira, N.Y., Sept. 14 and 23, 1896. 
Mrs. Crane is a daughter of Mr. Jervis Langdon mentioned in the text; letter 
of John W. Jones, Elmira, N.Y., Dec. 14, 1896. 

* A number of the stations along the lake shore are named in the sketches 
called "Romances and Realities of the Underground Railroad," by H. U. 
Johnson, printed in the Lakeshore and Home Magazine, 1885-1887. 

' E. M. Pettit, in Sketches in the History of the Underground Bailroai, 
pp. 30, 31, 32, gives an instance of the use of this route. 


England states and Canada.^ Another part came by boat 
from Southern ports to the shores of New England, landing 
at various places, chief among which seem to have been New 
Haven, New Bedford, Boston and Portland. Such was the 
number of arrivals and consequent demand for transportation 
to a place of safety, that these four places became the begin- 
nings of routes, which it has been possible to trace on the 
map with more or less completeness. 

The first of these may be called the Connecticut valley 
route. President E. B. Andrews, of Brown University, 
whose father was an active friend of slaves at IMontague in 
western Massachusetts, describes this route as running from 
New York, New Haven, or New London up the Connecticut 
River valley to Canada.^ This is corroborated by some 
writer in the History of Springfield, Massachusetts, where it is 
noted that there was a steady movement of parties of run- 
aways up the valley on their way to the adjacent provinces.^ 
Mr. Erastus F. Gunn, of Montague, Massachusetts, writes 
that the travel along this route was largely confined to the 
west side of the river, and was through Springfield, North- 
ampton and Greenfield into the State of Vermont.* Fugi- 
tives disembarking at New Haven ^ went north through 
Kensington, New Britain and Farmington, and probably by 
way of Bloomfield or Hartford to Springfield. Sometimes 
they came up the river by steamboat to Hartford, the head of 
navigation, and continued their journey overland.^ A trail 
probably much less used than the routes just mentioned, 
seems to have connected the southwestern part of Connecti- 
cut with the valley route.^ In Massachusetts there were 

1 See p. 120, this chapter. 

2 Letter of Mr. Andrews, Providence, E.I., April, 1895. 
8 Pp. 470, 471. 

* Letter of Mr. Gunn, Montague, Mass., Nov. 23, 1895. 

5 Letter of Simeon E. Baldwin, New Haven, Conn., Jan. 27, 1896 ; letter 
of Simeon D. Gilbert, New Haven, Conn., Feb. 27, 1896. 

* Letter of D. W. C. Pond, New Britain, Conn. Mr. Pond is one of the 
surviving agents of New Britain. 

'Letters of George B. Wakeman, Montour Palls, N.Y., April 21 and 
Sept. 26, 1896. Letter of the Rev. Erastus Blakeslee, Boston, Mass., 
Aug. 28, 1896. 


ramifications from tlie valley route,^ which may have termi- 
nated among the hills in the western part of the state, for all 
that one can now discover. 

A line of Road originating at New Bedford in southeastern 
Massachusetts is mentioned in connection with the line up 
the Connecticut valley by the Hon. M. M. Fisher, of Med- 
way, Massachusetts, as one of the more common routes.^ 
Mrs. Elizabeth Buffum Chace says that slaves landing on 
Cape Cod went to New Bedford, whence under the guidance 
of some abolitionist they were conveyed to the home of 
Nathaniel P. Borden at Fall River. Between this station 
and the one kept by Mr. and Mrs. Chace at Valley Falls, 
Robert Adams acted as conductor; and from Valley Falls 
Mr. Chace was in the habit of accompanying passengers a 
short distance over the Providence and Worcester Railroad 
until he had placed them in the care of some trusted em- 
ployee of that road to be transferred at Worcester to the Ver- 
mont Railroad.^ The Rev. Joshua Young was receiving 
agent at Burlington, Vermont, and testifies that during his 
residence there he and his friend and parishioner, L. H. 
Bigelow, did "considerable business." * South of Burlington 
there was a series of stations not connected with the Ver- 
mont Central Railroad extension of the New Bedford route. 
The names of these stations have been obtained from Mr. 
Rowland E. Robinson, whose father's house was a refuge for 
fugitives at Ferrisburg, Vermont, and from the Hon. Joseph 
Poland, the editor of the first anti-slavery newspaper in his 
state, who was himself an agent of the Underground Road at 
Montpelier. The names are those of nine towns, which form 
a line roughly parallel to the west boundary of the state, 
namely, North Ferrisburg, Ferrisburg, Vergennes, Middle- 
bury, Brandon, Rutland, Wallingford, Manchester and 

1 The stations, as indicated on the map, are named in letters from L. S. 
Abell and Charles Parsons, Conway, Mass.; C. Barrus, Springfield, Mass.; 
Judge D. W. Bond, Cambridge, Mass.; and Arthur G. Hill, Boston, Mass. 
See also article on "The Underground Railway," by Joseph Marsh, in the 
Sistory of Florence, Massachusetts, pp. 165-167. 

2 Letter of Mr. Fisher, Oct. 23, 1893. 

' Anti-Slavery Seminiscences, pp. 27, 28. 

* Letter of Mr. Young, Groton, Mass., April 21, 1893. 

The cave on the left was a rendezvous for fugitives. 




Bennington.^ They constituted what may be called the west 
Vermont route, Bennington being at the southern extremity, 
where escaped slaves were received from Troy, New York.^ 
The terminal at the northern end of this route was St. 
Albans, whence runaways could be hastened across the 
Canadian frontier. The valley of the lower Connecticut 
seems to have yielded a sufficient supply of fugitive slaves to 
sustain a vigorous line of Road in eastern Vermont. It was 
over this line the travellers came that were placed in hiding 
in the office of Editor Poland at Montpelier, having made 
their way northward with the aid of friends at Brattleboro, 
Chester, Woodstock, Randolph and intermediate points. At 
Montpelier the single path divided into three branches, one 
extending westward and uniting with the west Vermont 
route at Burlington, another running northward into the 
Queen's dominions by way of Morristown and other stations, 
and the third zigzagging to New Port, where a pass through 
the mountains admitted the zealous pilgrims to the coveted 
possession of their own liberty.* 

Having thus sketched in the Vermont lines of Underground 
Railroad, it is necessary for us to return to the consideration 
of the New Bedford route, which had some accessory lines 
near its source. One of these had stations at Newport and 
Providence, managed by Quakers — Jethro and Anne Mitchell 
with others in the former, and Daniel Mitchell in the latter.* 
Another was a short line through Windham County, in the 
northeastern part of Connecticut, to Uxbridge, where it joined 
the main line.^ The Rev. Samuel J. May, who was a resident 
of Brooklyn, Connecticut, in the early thirties, had fugitives 
addressed to his care at that time, and he helped them on to 
Effingham L. Capron while he lived in Uxbridge, and after- 

1 Letter of Mr. Robinson, Feixisburg, Vt., Aug. 19, 1896; letter of Mr. 
Poland, Montpelier, Vt., April 12, 1897. 

2 Letter of Mr. Bramerd, St. Albans, Vt, Oct. 21, 1895. 

« Letters of Mrs. Abijah Keitb, Chicago, Dl., March 28, and April 4, 1897 ; 
letters of Mr. Poland, April 7 and 12, 1897. 

* Letter of James S. Rogers, Chicago, HI., April 17, 1897. 

'Letters of Joel Fox, Willimantic, Conn., July 30, 1896, and Aug. 3, 


wards when he settled in Worcester.^ From Boston ^ west- 
ward there were at least two paths to reach the New Bedford 
road, one of these was by way of Newton to Worcester, and 
the other through Concord to Leominster. Mr. William I. 
Bowditch generally passed on the fugitives received at his 
house to Mr. William Jackson, of Newton, thence they were 
sent by rail to Worcester.^ Colonel T. W. Higginson writes 
that fugitives were sometimes sent from Boston to Worcester,* 
while he lived in the latter place, and that he has himself 
driven them at midnight to the farm of the veteran abolition- 
ists, Stephen and Abby Kelley Foster, in the suburbs of the 
city.® All along the short route, from Boston to Leominster 
and Fitchburg, stations were systematically arranged, accord- 
ing to the statement of Mrs. Mary E. Crocker,^ who was one 
of the helpers at Leominster.'^' This was the route taken by 
Shadrach, after his rescue in Boston.^ 

Boston was the starting-point of longer lines running north 
along the coast ; one, so far as can now be made out, turning 
and passing obliquely across New Hampshire ; the other fol- 
lowing the shore into Maine. Mr. Simeon Dodge, of Marble- 
head, Massachusetts, who had intimate knowledge of the first 
of these courses, gives, in an illustrative case, the names of 
Marblehead, Salem and Georgetown as stations ; ^ and Mr. G. 
W. Putnam, of Lynn, gives the names of persons harboring 

1 Some Becollections of our Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 297. 

2 "In Boston there were many places where fugitives were received and 
taken care of. Every anti-slavery man was ready to protect them, and 
among these were some families not known to be anti-slavery." James 
Freeman Clarke, Anti-Slavery Days, p. 86. 

8 Letter of Mr. Bowditch, Boston, April 5, 1893. 

* Letter of Mr. Higginson, Glimpsewood, Dublin, N.H., July 24, 1896. 

* T. W. Higginson, Atlantic Monthly, March, 1897. 

5 Article on "The Fugitive Slave Law and Its "Workings," in Fitchburg 
Daily Sentinel, Oct. 31, 1893. 

' Letter of Mr. F. B. Sanborn, Concord, Mass., Feb. 1, 1896, states that 
" Concord was a place of resort for fugitives." Letter of Mr. S. Shurtleff, 
South Paris, Me., May 25, 1896, states that " The direct line of the Under- 
ground Railroad was from Boston through Vermont, via St. Albans." 

8 Atlantic Monthly, March, 1897, p. 345 ; Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, 
Oct. 31, 1893 ; letter of Mr. Sanborn, Concord, Mass., Feb. 1, 1896. 

» Letter of Mr. Dodge, March, 1893. 


slaves at two of these places.^ A report of the Danvers His- 
torical Society is authority for the statement that Mr. Dodge, 
together with some of the abolitionists of Salem, maintained 
a secret thoroughfare to Canada,^ which passed through Dan- 
vers, and on through Concord, New Hampshire.^ From Con- 
cord fugitives were sent north to Canterbury and Meredith 
Ridge* in two known instances, and more frequently, it ap- 
pears, to Canaan and Lyme. James Furber, who lived in 
Canaan for several years, is said to have made trips to Lyme 
about once a fortnight with refugees received by him.* From 
Lyme they may have gone north by way of the Connecticut 
valley. At Salem the coast route parted company with the 
New Hampshire route, and ran on through Ipswich, Newbury- 
port and Exeter ^ to Eliot, Maine, and perhaps farther. 

Slaves sometimes reached Portland, Maine, travelling as 
stowaways on vessels from Southern ports. Consequently 
Portland became the centre of several hidden routes to Can- 
ada. Mr. S. T. Pickard, who lived in the family of Mrs. 
Oliver Dennett in Portland, says that Mrs. Dennett harbored 
runaway slaves, as did also Nathan Winslow and General 
Samuel Fessenden. The fugitives that came to Portland, he 
says, were on their way to New Brunswick and Lower Canada, 
and some were shipped directly to England.'^ Mr. Brown 
Thurston, the veteran abolitionist of Portland, is authority for 
the statement that routes extended from Portland to the prov- 
inces, by water to St. John, New Brunswick, and by rail to 
Montreal,* the road used being the Grand Trunk.® An im- 
portant overland route also had its origin at Portland. Its 
two branches encircled Sebago Lake, united at Bridgton, 
and formed a single pathway to the northwest, and did not 

1 Letter of Mr. Putnam, Lynn, Mass., Feb. 14, 1894. 

2 Old Anti-Slavery Days, p. 150. 

• Letter of David Mead, Davenport, Mass., Nov. 3, 1893. 

* Letter of Judge Mellen Chamberlain, Chelsea, Mass., Feb. 1, 1896. 
' Letter of C. E. Lord, Franklin, Pa., July 6, 1896. 

' Letter of D. L. Brigham, Manchester, Mass., Nov. 16, 1893 ; letter of 
Prof essor Marshall S. Snow, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo., April 28, 
1896. 7 Letter of Mr. Pickard, Portland, Me., Nov. 18, 1893. 

' Letter of Mr. Thurston, Jan. 13, 1893. 

' Letter of Mr. Thurston, Oct. 21, 1895 ; letter of Aaron Dunn, South 
Paris, Me., April 9, 1896. 


separate again until the eastern border of Vermont was 
reached. There, at Lunenburg, one branch took its course 
up the Connecticut valley to Stratford, and thence, probably, 
ran to Stanstead, Quebec ; while the other, passing more to 
the westward, joined the easternmost of the branches from 
Montpelier, Vermont, at Barton, and so entered Canada.^ 
Besides, there were at least two subsidiary routes, which were 
probably feeders of the "through line " just described. One 
of them ran to South Paris and Lovell ; ^ the other, accord- 
ing to ex-President O. B. Cheney, of Bates College, who was 
privy to its operations, ran to Effingham, North Parsonsfield 
and Porter.^ Both Lovell and Porter are within a few miles 
of several of the stations that form a part of the Maine 
section of this line, and could witnesses be found it is likely 
that their testimony would sustain the view that external 
evidence suggests. 

In the free states included between the Ohio and the Mis- 
sissippi rivers the number of underground trails was much 
greater than in the states farther east. Bordering on the 
slave states, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia, with a length 
of frontier greatly increased by the sinuosities of the rivers, 
the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois were the most favor- 
ably situated of all the Northern states to receive fugitive 
slaves. Not only the bounding rivers themselves, but also 
their numerous tributaries, became channels of escape into 
free territory, and connected directly with many lines of 
Underground Railroad. These lines of Road are shown on 
the map as starting from the Ohio or the Mississippi, but they 
cannot be supposed to have abruptly originated there, for in 
some instances there were points south of these streams that 
formed an essential part of the system. It is impossible to 
bring together here the numerous bits of testimony through 
the correlation of which the multitude of lines within the old 
Northwest Territory has been traced. Only a general survey, 
therefore, of the Underground Railroad system in the Western 
states will be undertaken, while several smaller maps of limited 

1 Letter of J. MUton Hall, April 30, 1897. 

2 Letter of S. Shurtleff, May 25, 1896. 

' Letter of Mr. Cheney, Pawtuxet, R.I., April 8, 1896. 


areas will give the details of the multiple and complex routes 
found therein. 

/^Concerning the number of paths there were in Ohio it is 
■ almost impossible to obtain a definite and correct idea. The 
location of the state was favorable to the development of new 
Unas with the steady increase in the number of slaves fleeing 
across its southern borders ; and, in the process of development, 
it was natural that the various branches should intertwine 
and form a great network. To disentangle the strands of 
this web and say how many there were is a thing not easy to 
accomplish, although an anonymous writer in 1842 seems to 
have found little or no difficulty in arriving at a definite 
conclusion. His estimate appeared in the Uxperiment of 
December 7, and is as follows: "It is evident from the 
statements of the abolitionists themselves, that there exist 
some eighteen or nineteen thoroughly organized thorough- 
fares through the State of Ohio for the transportation of run- 
away and stolen slaves, one of which passes through Fitchville, 
and which to my certain knowledge has done a ' land office 
business.' " ^ If the number of important initial stations fring- 
ing the southern and eastern boundaries of Ohio be counted 
as the points of origin of separate routes, it would be correct 
to say that there were not less than twenty-two or twenty- 
three routes in Ohio, but in a count thus made one would 
fail to note the instances in which, as in the case of Cincinnati, 
several lines sprang from one locality. 

In the remaining portion of the Northwest Territory, the 
number of lines was relatively not so great; and extended 
areas, as in the western and northern parts of Indiana or the 
southeastern part of Illinois, contained few or no lines so far 
as can now be discovered. In western and northern Illinois 
the conditions were more favorable, and the multiplicity of 
routes is such that on account of the fusion, division and sub- 
division of roads it is impossible to say how many lines crossed 
the state. In Michigan the case is not so complicated, and 
one can trace with some clearness six or seven paths leading 
to Detroit. Iowa, not a part, however, of the old Northwest 
Territory, was traversed by lines terminating in Illinois, and 

1 The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 67. 



therefore deserves consideration here. In the southeastern 
part of the state there were several short routes with initial 
stations at Croton, Bloomfield, Lancaster and Cincinnati, 
all of which had terminals no doubt along the Mississippi, 
though it has been possible to complete but two of the 
routes. In southwestern Iowa, Percival and the three roads 

branching from it 
are said to have 
supplied means of 
egress for slaves 
from Missouri and 
Nebraska through 
three tiers of coun- 
ties ranging across 
the state in lines 
parallel with the 
north boundary of 
Missouri. John 
Brown took the 
northernmost of 
these parallel roads 
in the winter of 
1858 and 1859, 
when he led a 
company of twelve 
fugitives from Mis- 
souri through Kan- 
sas to Percival on 
their way to Chi- 
cago and Detroit. 
Of the local 
maps, the first rep- 
resents the lines passing through a portion of Morgan County, 
in the southeastern part of Ohio. It was drawn by Mr. Thomas 
Williams, whose services in behalf of runaways made him fa- 
miliar with the location of operators in the western part of his 
county.^ The area represented is twenty-five miles in length 

1 Corroborative evidence as regards the routes of Morgan County is found 
in letters from the following persons : E. M. Stanberry, McConnellsville, 0., 

Undeeqround Lines of Morgan County, Ohio. 
Drawn by Thomas Williams. 


and sixteen in -width at the widest part, and contains nineteen 
stations including the towns through which routes passed. 
The irregular distribution of these stations, and the way in 
which trips could be varied from one to another to suit the con- 
venience of conductors or to elude pursuers is apparent. The 
fugitives that travelled over these routes crossed the Ohio 
River in the vicinity of Parkersburg and Point Pleasant, in 
what is now West Virginia, and proceeded north twenty or 
thirty miles by the help of abolitionists before reaching 
Morgan County. The southern part of this county was 
traversed by two parallel lines, one of which branched at Ros- 
seau and ran on in parallels to the northern part of the county 
whence after sharp deflection to the west the branches con- 
verged at Deavertown ; the other issued from its first station 
in three divergent lines, which rapidly converged at Penns- 
ville and were united by a single course to the first route. 
In case of emergency a guide used his knowledge and discre- 
tion as to whether he should " cut across lots," skip stations, 
travel by the "longest way around," or go back on his track. 
The houses noted on the map as being off the regular routes 
appear to have been emergency stations and hence not so 
frequently used. 

A special map of exceeding interest and importance is that 
drawn by Mr. Lewis Falley, of La Fayette, Indiana, showing 
the underground lines of Indiana and IMichigan about 1848. 
Mr. Falley's acquaintance with the Road came about through 
the work of his father in the interest of fugitives in La Fay- 
ette after 1841. Subsequently Mr. Falley learned of the 
lines traversing his state through an itinerant preacher who 
sometimes stopped as a guest at his father's house. When 
Mr. Falley's map was received in March, 1896, the author 
himself had already plotted from other testimony a number 
of routes in southern and eastern Indiana and in Michigan, 
and a comparison of maps was made. On Mr. Falley's map 
three main roads appear, the eastern, middle and western 
routes. The first of these ran parallel, roughly speaking, 

Nov. 1, 1892; T. L. Gray, Deavertown, O., Dec. 2, 1892; Martha Millions, 
Pennsville, 0., March 9, 1892 ; E. B. Brown, Sugar Grove, O. ; H. C. Harvey, 
Manchester, Kan., Jan. 16, 1893. 



with the eastern boundary line of the state only a few miles 
from it, and took its rise from two lesser paths, which con- 
verged at Richmond from 
either side of the state 
line. The second or mid- 
dle route sprang from 
three branches that 
crossed the Ohio at Madi- 
son, New Albany, and the 
neighborhood of Leaven- 
worth, passed north 
through Indianapolis and 
Logansport, and entered 
Michigan a few miles east 
of Lake Michigan. The 
third or western route 
followed up the Wabash 
River to La Fayette, 
where it crossed the 
river, proceeded to Rens- 
selaer, and thence north- 
easterly to the Michigan 
line, making its entrance 
to Michigan at the point 
where the middle route 
entered that state. From 
the two crossing-places on the Michigan border the northern 
extensions of the Indiana routes found their way to Battle 
Creek, from which station one trail led directly east to 
Detroit, and the other, by a more northerly course, to Port 
Huron. In southern Indiana the eastern route was con- 
nected with the middle route by a branch between Greens- 
burg and Indianapolis, and the middle with the western by 
two branches, one between Salem and Evansville, and the 
other between Brownstown and Bloomingdale. 

In the general map prepared by the author, the southern 
route through Michigan to Detroit, and the eastern, middle, 
and a portion of the western routes in Indiana on the map of 
Mr. Falley are duplicated with more or less completeness. 

taiH^MfW^lSkDoicalDUles.^ ,^^^U)nteniot well established. «hm 

IN 1848. 

As traced by Lewis Falley. 



The initial stations along tlie Ohio River correspond in the 
two maps almost exactly, and many of the way-stations seen 
on the one map are to be found on the other. It is not to 
be expected that the two maps would agree in all particulars, 
and some stations occur on each that are not to be found on 
the other. Such differences are due to the development of 
new or the obliteration of old 
lines and the insufficient know- 
ledge of the draughtsmen. It is 
not known that a map similar to 
Mr. Falley's has been devised for 
any other state or states among 
the many through which well- 
defined underground routes ex- 

From a drawing made by Mr. 
W. B. Fyffe, an old-time station- 
agent of Ottawa, Illinois, the 
accompanying chart of a line of 
escape through Livingston and 
La Salle counties in Illinois is 
reproduced. The portion of the 
trail represented is about forty 
miles in length, and is remarkable 
for the directness of its course 
and the absence of interlacing 
lines. At Ottawa, the northern- 
most station shown, the trail 
loses these two characteristics, 
for it makes there a sharp turn 
on its way to the terminus, Chi- 
cago, and at Ottawa also it makes 
a junction with several other lines from the western part 
of the state.^ 

A number of noteworthy features appear on the general 

map. The first deserving mention is the direction or trend 

of the underground lines. The region traversed by these 

lines may be described as an irregular crescent, the concavity 

1 For these features see the general map. 

Simple Route thkough Ltvtng- 


DrawB hy William B. Fylfe. 



of which is in part filled by a portion of Ontario, Canada, 
which by reason of its proximity became the goal of the great 
majority of runaways. In the New England states the direc- 
tion of the underground paths was, with perhaps an exception 
or two, from southeast to northwest, their objective point be- 

CoUin'^ Place 

Port William 
I Rev.Fergruson 
ifjoel P.Davis 
l\ A. Allen 
ll David Allen 

S^Oakland-jivl., s., J..and W. Srooie 

i »"^ I \j.,d:H.D. Thompson I 

—- ■ ^^ B [Ed. Kinsey j 

totemasjNickerson'jl Wilmington 
Station I I \ 

O I L I I K T O 
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\((ew Vienna 

Drawn by Joel P. Davis. 

Added branches -——---■ 

Network of Routes through Grbenb, Warren and Clinton 
Counties, Ohio. 

ing Montreal. The main lines of Pennsylvania and New York 
ran north until they reached the middle part of the latter 
state, and then veered off almost directly west to Canada. 
West of Pennsylvania the trend of the routes was in general 
to northeast, being in Ohio and Indiana to the shores of Lake 


Erie, and in Illinois and Iowa to the southern extremity of 
Lake Michigan. Through central Iowa, northern Illinois 
and southern Michigan, the course of the routes was almost 
directly east. 

It is not surprising that the regions through which the 
simplest and most direct routes passed should have been those 
at the two extremities of the great irregular crescent of free 
soil, where the number of routes was few and the activity of 
the stations limited. In the states that formed the middle 
portion of the crescent, it was natural that multiple and intri- 
cate trails should have been developed. The fact that slave- 
owners and their agents often sallied into this region in search 
of missing chattels was a consideration given due weight by 
the shrewd operators, who early learned that one of their best 
safeguards lay in complex routes, made by several lines radiat- 
ing from one centre, or branch connections between routes, by 
paths that zigzagged from station to station. These features 
were characteristic, and serve to show that the safety of fugi- 
tives was never sacrificed by the abolitionists to any thought- 
less desire for rapid transit. From Cincinnati, Ohio, not less 
than four branches of the Road radiated. One of these led 
to Fountain City, Indiana, where it was joined by two other 
important lines. From this point four lines diverged to the 
north. At Oberlin as many as five lines converged from the 
south. Quincy, Illinois, was the starting-point of four or five 
lines, and Knoxville, Ottawa and Chicago in the same state 
each received fugitives from several routes. The region in 
which the devices of multiple routes and cross lines were 
most highly developed is, as far as known, in southeastern 

Some broken lines and isolated place-names occur upon the 
map. For example, in Iowa, branches of the system have been 
traced to Quincy, Indianola, North English and Ottumwa, 
but beyond these points the connections cannot be made. 
Examples of such incomplete sections will be found also in 
northern and central Illinois, in central Indiana, in western 
New York, in central and eastern Pennsylvania and in other 
states. It is not to be supposed that the routes represented 
by these fragmentary lines terminated abruptly without reach- 


ing a haven of safety, but only that the witnesses whose testi- 
mony is essential to complete the lines have not been discovered. 
In the case of the isolated place-names, a few of which occur 
in the New England states, in New York, Pennsylvania, 
Indiana and Illinois, the evidence at hand seemed to desig- 
nate them as stations, without indicating in any definite way 
the neighboring stations with which they were probably allied. 

On the general map may be noticed a few long stretches of 
Road that had apparently no way-stations. Such lines are 
usually identical with certain rivers, or canals, or railway sys- 
tems. It has already been seen that the Connecticut River 
served to guide fugitives north on their way to Canada.^ 
The Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Alleghany, and Hudson rivers 
united stations more or less widely separated.^ The tow-paths 
of some of our western canals formed convenient highways 
to liberty for a considerable number of self-reliant fugitives, 
and were considered safer than public roads. A letter from 
E. C. H. Gavins, of Bloomfield, Indiana,* states that the 
Wabash and Erie Canal became a thoroughfare for slaves, 
who followed it from the vicinity of.Evansville, Indiana, until 
they reached Ohio, probably in some instances going as far 
as Toledo, though usually, as the writer believes, striking 
off on one or another of several established lines of Under- 
ground Road in central and northern Indiana. James Bay- 
liss,* of Massillon, in northeastern Ohio, states that fugitives 
sometimes came up the tow-path of the canal to Massillon, 
knowing that the canal led to Cleveland, whence a boat could 
be taken for Canada.^ 

The identity of a few of the tracings with steam railway 
lines signifies, of course, transportation by rail when the situ- 
ation admitted of it. Sometimes, when there was not the 
usual eagerness of pursuit, and when the intelligence or the 

1 See p. 129, this chapter. 

2 See the language of Jefferson Davis, quoted on p. 312, Chapter X ; letter 
of A. P. Dutton, Racine, Wis., April 7, 1896 ; E. M. Pettit, Sketches in the 
History of the Underground Bailroad, pp. 29, 30, 31 ; letter of Florence and 
Cordelia H. Ray, referred to on p. 126, this chapter. 

' Letter of Mr. Cavins, Dec. 6, 1895. 

* Conversation with James Bayliss, Massillon, O., Aug. 15, 1895. 

' Letter of Brown Thurston, Portland, Me., Oct. 21, 1895. 


Caucasian cast of features of the fugitive warranted it, 
the traveller was provided with the necessary ticket and in- 
structions, and put aboard the cars for his destination. The 
Providence and Worcester and the Vermont Central rail- 
roads furnished quick transportation from New Bedford, 
Massachusetts, to Canada.^ In southeastern Pennsylvania 
the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad carried many slaves 
on their way to freedom, and according to Smedley, " All 
who took the trains at the Reading Railroad stations went 
directly through to Canada." ^ E. F. Pennypacker often for- 
warded negroes from Schuylkill to Philadelphia over this 
road, and William StUl sent them on their northward jour- 
ney.^ Fugitives arriving at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, some- 
times took passage over the Northern Central Railroad to 
Elmira, New York. Mr. Jervis Langdon and John W. 
Jones, of Elmira, took care that underground passengers se- 
cured transportation from Elmira to their destination. The 
fugitives were always put in the baggage-car at four o'clock 
in the morning,* and went through without change to the 
Niagara River. The old Mad River Railroad bore many 
dark-skinned passengers from Urbana, if not also from Cin- 
cinnati and Dayton, Ohio, to Lake Erie.^ In eastern Ohio 
the Cleveland and Western Railroad, from Alliance to Cleve- 
land, was much patronized during several years by instructed 
runaways. Mr. I. Newton Peirce, then living in Alliance, 
had " an understanding with all the passenger-train conduc- 
tors on the C. and W. R. R." that colored persons provided 
with tickets bearing the initials I. N. P. were to be admitted 

1 See p. 80, Chapter m. 

2 Underground Railroad, p. 174. See also pp. 176, 177. 
s Ibid., pp. 364, 365. 

Tlie following letter from Mr. Pennypacker to Mr. Still explains itself : 

" Schuylkill, 11th Mo., 7th, 1857. 
"WiLLLAM Still, Respected Friend, — There are three colored friends at 
my house now, who will reach the city by the Philadelphia and Reading train 
this evening. Please meet them. 

Thine, etc. , E. F. Penntpackek. 

We have within the past two months passed forty-three through our hands, 
transported most of them to Norristown in our own conveyance. E. F. P." 

4 Letter of Mr. Jones, Elmira, N.Y., Jan. 16, 1897. 

5 See p. 78, Chapter III. 


to the trains without question, unless slave-catchers were 
thought to be aboard the cars.^ Indiana and Michigan are 
known to have had their steam railway lines in the secret 
service system : in the former state the Louisville, New 
Albany and Chicago Railroad was utilized by operators at 
CrawfordsviUe ; ^ in the latter the Michigan Central sup- 
plied a convenient outlet to Detroit from stations along its 
course.^ The Chicago and Rock Island Railroad from Peru, 
Lasalle County, Illinois, to Chicago was incorporated in the 
service, so also was the Illinois Central from Cairo and Cen- 
tralia to the same terminus. The Chicago, Burlington and 
Quincy Railroad sometimes conveyed fugitives from Quincy 
on the Mississippi River to Chicago. Two men of promi- 
nence connected with this road, who secured transportation 
over its rails for many Canada-bound passengers, were Dr. C. 
V. Dyer, of Chicago, and Colonel Berrien, chief engineer of 
the road.* 

Along the portion of the Atlantic coast shown on the map 
will be seen long lines connecting Southern with Northern 
ports. These represent routes to liberty by sea. It is re- 
ported by a station-keeper of Valley Falls, Rhode Island, 
that " Slaves in Virginia would secure passage either secretly 
or with the consent of the captains, in small trading vessels, 
at Norfolk or Portsmouth, and thus be brought into some 
port in New England, where their fate depended on circum- 
stances ;" ^ and the reporter gives several instances coming 
within her knowledge of fugitives that escaped from Virginia 
to Massachusetts as stowaways on vessels.^ Boats engaged 
in the lumber trade sometimes brought refugees from New- 
berne, North Carolina, to Philadelphia.'^ Captain Austin 
Bearse, who was active in the rescue of stowaways from 
vessels arriving in Boston harbor from the South, cites two 
instances in which fugitives came by sea from Wilmington, 

1 Letter of Mr. Peiroe, Folcroft, Delaware Co., Pa., Feb. 1, 1893. 

2 See p. 79, Chapter in. s jftjfj. 

* Life and Poems of John Howard Bryant, p. 30. Mr. Bryant made a 
practice of receiving fugitives in his house in Princeton, HI. 

6 Mrs. Elizabeth Buffum Chace, Anti-Slavery Beminiscences, p. 27. 

6 Ibid., pp. 28, 30. 

' R. C. Smedley, Underground Railroad, p. 356. 


Nortli Carolina, and another from Jacksonville, Florida.^ 
William Still gives a number of cases of escape by boat from 
Ricbmond and Norfolk, Virginia, and Wilmington, North 
Carolina, to the Vigilance Committee at Philadelphia.^ Ne- 
groes arriving in New York City and coming within the 
horizon of Isaac T. Hopper's knowledge were often sent by 
water to Providence and Boston.^ 

Of the terminal stations or places of deportation along our 
northeastern boundary, there are not less than twenty-four, 
and probably many more. Three of them, Boston, Portland 
and St. Albans, were located in the New England states. 
Fugitives were probably less often sent directly to English 
soil from Boston than from the two other points, and in the 
few instances of which we have any hint, with perhaps one 
exception, the passengers so sent were put aboard vessels 
sailing for England. The boats running between Portland 
and the Canadian provinces were freely made use of to help 
slaves to their freedom, especially as the emigrants were often 
provided with passes. Sailing-vessels also furnished free 
passage, and carried the majority of the passengers that went 
from Portland.* St. Albans was the terminal of the Vermont 
line. Many fugitives were received and cared for here, and 
were sent on by private conveyance across the Canada border 
before the Vermont Central Railroad was built. Afterwards 
they were sent by rail, through the intervention of the Hon. 
Lawrence Brainerd, of St. Albans, who was one of the pro- 
jectors of the steam railroad and largely interested in it 

Along the northern boundary of New York and Penn- 

"^sylvania there seem to have been not less than ten resorts 

facing the Canadian frontier. These were Ogdensburg,® Cape 

^ Eeminiscences of Fugitive-Slave Lain Days in Boston, pp. 34, 36, 37. 
« William Still, Underground Mailroad Records, pp. 77, 142, 151, 163, 165, 
211, etc. 

' Letter of James S. Rogers, Chicago, Dl., April 17, 1897. 
* Letter of Brown Thurston, Portland, Me., Oct. 21, 1895. 

5 Letter of Aldis O. Brainerd, St. Albans, Vt., Oct. 21, 1895. 

6 " They crossed at Detroit and at Niagara and at Ogdenshurg. Of those 
in New England, some went np through Vermont, some fled to Maine, and 
crossed over into New Brunswick." F. W. Seward, Seward at Washington 
as Senator and Secretary of State, Vol. I, p. 170. 


Vincent, Port Ontario, Oswego, some port near Rochester, 
Lewiston, Suspension Bridge, Black Rock, Buffalo, Dunkirk 
Harbor and Erie. Doubtless the most important of these cross- 
ing-places were the four along the Niagara River, for here 
the most travelled of the routes in New York terminated. The 
harbors along Lake Ontario and the one on the St. Lawrence 
River appear to have been the terminals of side-tracks and 
branches rather than of main lines of Road. 

Ohio may lay claim to eight terminal stations, all compara- 
tively important. The best-known of these appear to have 
been Ashtabula Harbor, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky 
and Toledo, although the other three, Huron, Lorain and 
Conneaut, may be supposed, from their locations, to have 
done a thriving business. It is impossible to get now a meas- 
ure of the eflBciency of these various ports, for the period dur- 
ing which they were resorted to was a long one, and operators 
were obliged to work more or less independently, and ob- 
tained no adequate idea of the number emigrating from any 
one point. Custom-house methods were not followed in keep- 
ing account of the negroes exported across the Canada fron- 
tier. All that can be said in comparing these various ports 
is that Ashtabula Harbor, Cleveland and Sandusky, each 
seems to have been the terminus for four or five lines of Road, 
while perhaps only two or three lines ended at Toledo and 
Painesville, and one each at Huron, Lorain and Conneaut. 
Concerning the port at Huron we have a few observations, 
made by Mr. L. S. Stow, who lived a few miles from Lake 
Erie on the course of the Milan canal, and near one of the 
managers of the terminal, on whose premises fugitives often 
awaited the appearance of a Canada-bound boat. He says : 
"We used to see, occasionally, the fugitives, who ventured 
out for exercise while waiting for an opportunity to get on 
one of the vessels frequently passing down the canal and 
river from Milan, during the season of navigation. Many of 
these vessels passed through the Welland Canal on their way 
to the lower Lakes, and after leaving the harbor at Huron the 
fugitives were safe from the pursuit of their masters unless 
the vessels were compelled by stress of weather to return to 
harbor." ^ 

1 The Firelanda Pioneer, July, 1888, pp. 80, 81. 



j4 "^(iSifc-T 


(From an engra\'ing in possession of C. M. Burton, Esq., of Detroit.) 


(From n photograph in possession of J. D. Hulbert, Esq., of Harbor, Ohio.) 


Hundreds, nay, thousands of fugitives found crossing-places 
along the Detroit River, especially at the city of Detroit. 
The numerous routes of Indiana together with several of the 
chief routes of western Ohio poured their passengers into 
Detroit, thence to be transported by ferries and row-boats to 
the tongue of land pressing its shore-line for thirty miles from 
Lake Erie to Lake St. Clair upon the very borders of Michi- 
gan. The movement of slaves to this region was a fact of 
which Southerners early became apprised, and their efforts 
to recover their servants as these were about to enter the 
Canaan already within sight were occasionally successful, 
although the majority of the people of Detroit ^ and of the 
surrounding districts rejoiced to see the slave-catchers out- 

The places of deportation remaining to be mentioned are 
four, along the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, namely, 
Milwaukee, Racine, South Port and Chicago. Of these the 
last-named was, doubtless, the most important, since through 
it chiefly were drained off the fugitives that came from Mis- 
souri over the routes of Iowa and Illinois. A single operator 
of Chicago, Mr. Philo Carpenter, is said to have guided not 
less than two hundred negroes to Canada-bound vessels.^ 

The lines of boat-service to the Canadian termini require 
a few words of comment. The longest line of travel on the 
lakes was that connecting the ports of Wisconsin and Illinois 
with Detroit or Amherstburg,^ and was only approached in 
length by the route from Chicago to CoUingwood, Ontario.* 
Five hundred miles would be a minimum statement of the 
distance refugees were carried by the boats of abolitionist 
captains from these westernmost ports to their havens of refuge. 
On Lake Erie the routes were, of course, much shorter, and 
ran up and down the lake, as well as across it. Important 
routes joined Toledo, Sandusky and Cleveland to Amherst- 
burg and Detroit at one end of the lake, and Dunkirk, Ashta- 
bula Harbor, Painesvijle and Cleveland with Buffalo and 

* Silas Farmer, History of Detroit and Michigan, p. 346. 
^ Edward G. Mason, Early Chicago and Illinois, p. 110. 

* See Chapter m, pp. 82, 83. 

* Letter of John G. Weiblen, Fairview, Erie Co., Pa., Nov. 26, 1895. 


Black Rock at the other end of the lake. Certain boats run- 
ning on these routes came to be known as abolition boats, with 
ample accommodations for underground passengers. Thus, 
we are told, such passengers " depended on a vessel named 
the Arrow, which for many years plied between Sandusky 
and Detroit, but always touched first at Maiden, Canada, 
where the fugitives were landed."^ Frequent .use was also 
made of scows, sail-boats and sharpies, with which refugees 
could be " set across " the lake, and landed at almost any 
point along the shore. Small vessels, a part of whose 
"freight" had been received from the Underground Rail- 
road, were often despatched to Port Burwell in the night 
from the warehouse of Hubbard and Company, forwarding and 
commission merchants of Ashtabula Harbor.^ Similar enter- 
prises were carried on at various other points along the lake.^ 
So far as known. Lake Ontario had only a few comparatively 
insignificant routes : at the upper end of the lake were two, 
one joining Rochester and St. Catherines, the other, St. Cathe- 
rines and Toronto; at the lower end of the lake, Oswego, 
Port Ontario and Cape Vincent seem to have been connected 
by lines with Kingston. 

It is impossible to tell how many cities, towns and villages 
in Canada became terminals of the underground system. 
Outside of the interlake region of Ontario it is safe to name 
Kingston, Prescott, Montreal, Stanstead and St. John, New 
Brunswick. Within that region the terminals were numerous, 
being scattered from the southern shore of Georgian Bay to 
Lake Erie, and from the Detroit and Huron rivers to the 

1 The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 77. 

* Conversation with Nelson Watrous, Harbor, O., Aug. 8, 1892 ; conversa- 
tion with J. D. Hulbert, Harbor, O., Aug. 7, 1892. 

' The following incident given by Mr. Rush R. Sloane will serve as an 
illustration: "In the summer of 1853, four fugitives arrived at Sandusky. 
. . . Mr. John Irvine . . . had arranged for a ' sharpee,' a small sail-boat 
used by fishermen, with one George Sweigels, to sail the boat to Canada with 
this party, for which service Captain Sweigels was to receive thirty-five dol- 
lars. One man accompanied Captain Sweigels, and at eight o'clock in the 
evening this party in this small boat started to cross Lake Erie. The wind 
was favorable, and before morning Point au Pelee Island was reached, and 
the next day the four escaped fugitives were in Canada." The Firelands 
Pioneer, July, 1888, pp. 49, 50. 


Niagara. Owen Sound, Collingwood and Oro were the 
northernmost resorts, so far as now known. Toronto, 
Queen's Bush, Wellesley, Gait and Hamilton occupied terri- 
tory south of these, and farther south still, in the marginal 
strip fronting directly on Lake Erie, there were not less than 
twenty more places of refuge. The most important of these 
were naturally those situated at either end of the strip, and 
along the shore-line, namely, Windsor, Sandwich and Am- 
herstburg. New Canaan, Colchester and Kingsville, Gosfield 
and Buxton, Port Stanley, Port Burwell and Port Royal, 
Long Point, Fort Erie and St. Catherines. In the yalley of 
the Thames also many refugees settled, especially at Chat- 
ham, Dresden and Dawn, and at Sydenham, London and 
Wilberforce. The names of two additional towns, Sarnia on 
the Huron River and Brantford on the Grand, complete the 
list of the known Canadian terminals. This enumeration of 
centres cannot be supposed to be exhaustive. A full record 
would take into account the localities in the outlying country 
districts as well as those adjoining or forming a part of the 
hamlets, towns and cities of the whites, whither the blacks 
had penetrated. The untrodden wilds of Canada, as well as 
her populous places, seemed hospitable to a people for whom 
the hardships of the new life were fuUy compensated by the 
consciousness of their possession of the rights of freemen, 
rights vouchsafed them by a government that exemplified the 
proud boast of the poet Cowper : — 

" Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their lungs 
Receive our air, that moment they are free ! 
They touch our country and their shackles fall." 



Most persons that engaged in the underground service were 
opposed either to enticing or to abducting slaves from the 
South. This was no less true along the southern border of the 
free states than in their interior. The principle generally 
acted upon by the friends of fugitives was that which they 
held to be voiced in the Scriptural injunction to feed the 
hungry and clothe the naked. The quaking negro at the 
door in the dead of night seeking relief from a condition, 
the miseries of which he found intolerable and for which he 
was in no proper sense responsible, was a figure to be pitied, 
and to be helped without delay. Under such circumstances 
there was no room for casuistry in the mind of the aboli- 
tionist. The response of his warm nature was as decisive as 
his favorite passage of Scripture was imperative. The fugi- 
tive was fed, clothed if necessary, and guided to another 
friend farther on. But abolitionists were unwilling, for the 
most part, to involve themselves more deeply in danger by 
abducting slaves from thraldom. The Rev. John B. Mahan, 
one of the early anti-slavery men of southern Ohio, expressed 
this fact when he said, " I am confident that few, if any, for 
various reasons, woulS^ invade the jurisdiction of another 
state to give aid and encouragement to slaves to escape from 
their owners. . . . " ^ And in northern Ohio, in so radical 
a town as Oberlin, a famous station of the Underground 
Road, we are told that there was no sentiment in favor of 
enticing slaves away, and that this was never done except in 
one case — by Calvin Fairbank, a student.^ 

1 History of Brown County, Ohio, p. 315. 

'^ ConYersation with ex-President James H. Fairchild, Oberlin, 0., Aug. 3, 



The general disinclination to induce escapes of slaves, 
either by secret invitation or by persons serving as guides, 
renders the few cases conspicuous, and gives them consider- 
able interest. When instances of this kind became known 
to the slave-owners, as for example, by the arrest and im- 
prisonment of some over-venturesome offender, the irritation 
resulting on both sides of Mason and Dixon's line was apt to 
be disproportionate to the magnitude of the cause. Never- 
theless the aggravation of sectional feeling thus produced 
was real, and was valued by some Northern agitators as a 
means to a better understanding of the system of slavery.^ 

The largest number of abduction cases occurred through 
the activities of those well-disposed towards fugitives by the 
attachments of race. There were many negroes, enslaved 
and free, along the southern boundaries of New Jersey, Penn- 
sylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, whose opportuni- 
ties were numerous for conveying fugitives to free soil with 
slight risk to themselves. These persons sometimes did 
scarcely more than ferry runaways across a stream or direct 
them to the homes of friends residing near the line of a free 
state. In the vicinity of Martin's Ferry, Ohio, there lived 
a colored man who frequented the Virginia shore for the 
purpose of persuading slaves to run away. He was in the 
habit of imparting the necessary information, and then dis- 
playing himself in an intoxicated condition, feigned or real, 
to avoid suspicion. At last he was found out, but escaped 
by betaking himself to Canada.^ In the neighborhood of 
Portsmouth, Ohio, slaves were conveyed across the river by 
one Poindexter, a barber of the town of Jackson.^ In 
Baltimore, Maryland, two colored women, who engaged in 
selling vegetables, were efficient in starting fugitives on the 
way to Philadelphia.* At Louisville, Kentucky, Wash Sprad- 
ley, a shrewd negro, was instrumental in helping many of 
his enslaved brethren out of bondage.^ These few instances 

1 See the Annual Eeports of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. 

2 Conversation with Mrs. Joel "Woods, at Martin's Ferry, Aug. 19, 1892. 
' Conversation vrith Judge Jesse "W. Laird, Jackson, O., June, 1895. 

* Conversation with Mr. Eohert Purvis, at Philadelphia, Dec. 23, 1895. 
' Conversation with John Evans, at Windsor, Ont., C.W., Aug. 2, 1895 ; 


will suiBce to illustrate the secret enterprises conducted by 
colored persons on both sides of the sectional line once divid- 
ing the North from the South. 

Another class of colored persons that undertook the work 
of delivering some of their race from the cruel uncertainties 
of slavery may be found among the refugees of Canada. 
Describing the early development of the movement of slaves 
to Canada, Dr. Samuel G. Howe says of these persons, " Some, 
not content with personal freedom and happiness, went 
secretly back to their old homes and brought away their 
wives and children at much peril and cost." ^ It has been 
stated that the number of these persons visiting the South 
annually was about five hundred.^ Mr. D. B. Hodge, of 
Lloydsville, Ohio, gives the case of a negro that went to 
Canada by way of New Athens, and in the course of a year 
returned over the same route, went to Kentucky, and brought 
away his wife and two children, making his pilgrimage north- 
ward again after the lapse of about two months.* Another 
case, reported by Mr. N. C. Buswell, of Neponset, Illinois, is 
as follows : A slave, Charlie, belonging to a Missouri planter 
living near Quincy, Illinois, escaped to Canada by way of one 
of the underground routes. Ere long he decided to return 
and get his wife, but found she had been sold South. When 
making his second journey eastward he brought with him 
a family of slaves, who preferred freedom to remaining as the 
chattels of his old master. This was the first of a number of 
such trips made by the fugitive Charlie.* Mr. Seth Linton,^ 
who was familiar with the work on a line of this Road run- 
ning through Clinton County, Ohio, reports that a fugitive 
that had passed along the route returned after some months, 
saying he had come back to rescue his wife. His absence in 
the slave state continued so long that it was feared he had 
been captured, but after some weeks he reappeared, bringing 

John Evans was a slave near Louisville, but was given his liberty in 1850, 
when his master became financially involved. 

1 Howe, The Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, p. 11. 

2 Redpath, The Public Life of Captain John Brown, p. 229. 
8 Letter from Mr. D. B. Hodge, Oct. 9, 1894. 

* Letter from Colonel N. C. Buswell, March 13, 1896. 
6 Letter from Seth Linton. 


his wife and her father with him. He told of having seen 
many slaves in the country and said they would be along as 
soon as they could escape. The following year the Clinton 
County line was unusually busy. A brave woman named 
Armstrong escaped with her husband and one child to Canada 
in 1842. Two years later she determined to rescue the re- 
mainder of her family from the Kentucky plantation where 
she had left them, and, disguised as a man, she went back to 
the old place. Hiding near a spring, where her children 
were accustomed to get water, she was able to give instructions 
to five of them, and the following night she departed with 
her flock to an underground station at Ripley, Ohio.* 

Equally zealous in the slaves' behalf with the groups of 
persons mentioned in the last two paragraphs were certain 
individuals of Southern birth and white parentage, who found 
the opportunity to conduct slaves beyond the confines of the 
plantation states. Robert Purvis tells of the son of a planter, 
who sometimes travelled into the free states with a retinue of 
body-servants for the purpose of having them fall into the hands 
of vigilant abolitionists. The author has heard similar stories 
in regard to the sons of Kentucky slave-owners, but the names 
of the parties concerned were withheld for obvious reasons. 

John Fairfield, a Virginian, devoted much time and thought 
to abducting slaves. Levi Coffin, who knew him intimately, 
describes him as a person full of contradictions, who, al- 
though a Southerner by birth, and living the greater part of 
the time in the South, yet hated slavery ; a person lacking 
in moral quality, but devoted to the interests of the slave.^ 
John Fairfield's ostensible business was, at times, that of a 
poultry and provision dealer; and his views, when he was 
among planters, were pro-slavery. Nevertheless his abiding 
interest seems to have been to despoil slaveholders of their 
human property. He made excursions into various parts of 
the South, and led many companies safely through to Canada. 
While Laura Haviland was serving as a mission teacher in 
Canada West (1852-1853), Fairfield arrived at Windsor, 

1 The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 39. 

2 CofBn, JReminiscences, pp. 304, 305 ; letter of Miss H. N. Wilson, College 
Hill, O., AprilU, 1892. 


bringing with him twenty-seven slaves. Mrs. Haviland, who 
witnessed the happy conclusion of this adventure, testifies 
that it was but one of many, and that the abductor often 
made expeditions into the heart of the slaveholding states to 
secure his companies. On the occasion of the arrival of the 
Virginian with the twenty-seven a reception and dinner were 
given in his honor by appreciative friends in one of the 
churches of the colored people, and a sort of jubilee was 
celebrated. The ecstasies of some of the guests, among them 
an old negro woman over eighty years of age, touched the 
heart of their benefactor, who exclaimed, " This pays me for 
all dangers I have faced in bringing this company, just to see 
these friends meet." ^ 

Northern men residing or travelling in the South were some- 
times tempted to encourage slaves to flee to Canada, or even 
to plan and execute abductions. Jacob Cummings, a slave 
belonging to a small planter, James Smith, of southeastern 
Tennessee, was befriended by a Mr. Leonard, of Chattanooga, 
who had become an abolitionist in Albany, New York, before 
his removal to the South. Cummings was occasionally sent 
on errands to Mr. Leonard's store. This gave the Northerner 
the desired opportunity to show his slave customer where 

1 Laura S. Haviland, A Woman's Life Work, p. 199. 

In a letter dated Lawrence, Kan., March 23, 1893, Mr. Fitch Reed gives 
some of the circumstances connected with the progress of this company- 
through the last stages of its journey. He says : " In 1853, there came over 
the road twenty-eight in one gang, with a conductor by the name of Fairfield, 
from Virginia, who had aided in liberating all his father's and uncle's slaves, 
and there was a reward out for him of five hundred dollars, dead or alive. 
They had fifty-two rounds of arms, and were determined not to be taken 
alive. Four teams from my house [in Cambridge, Mich.] started at sunset, 
drove through Clinton after dark, got to Ypsilanti before daylight. Stayed 
at Bro. Ray's through the day. At noon, Bro. M. Coe, from our station, 
got on the cars and went to Detroit, and left Ray to drive his team. Coe in- 
formed the friends of the situation, and made arrangements for their recep- 
tion. The friends came out to meet them ten miles before we came to Detroit, 
piloted us to a large boarding-house by the side of the river. Two hundred 
abolitionists took breakfast with them just before daylight. "We procured 
boats enough for Fairfield and his crew. As they pushed off from shore, 
they all commenced singing the song, ' I am on my way to Canada, where 
colored men are free,' and continued firing off their arms till out of hearing. 
At eight o'clock, the ferry-boats started, and the station-keepers went over 
and spent most of the day vrith them." 


Ohio and Indiana are on the map, and to advise him to go to 
Canada. As Cummings had a "hard master" he did not 
long delay his going. ^ 

The risks and costs of a long trip were not too great for the 
enthusiastic abolitionist who felt that immediate rescue must 
be attempted. One remarkable incident illustrates the de- 
termination sometimes displayed in freeing a slave. Two 
brothers from Connecticut settled in the District of Columbia 
about the year 1848. They became gardeners, and employed 
among their hands a colored woman, who was hired out to 
them by her master. Soon after the passage of the Fugitive 
Slave Law (1850) she came weeping to her employers with 
the news that she was to be sold " down South." Stirred by 
her impending misfortune, one of the brothers had a large 
box made, within which he nailed the slave-woman and her 
young daughter. With the box in his market-wagon he set 
out on a long, arduous trip across Maryland and Pennsylvania 
into New York. After three weeks of travel he reached his 
journey's end at Wai-saw. Here he delivered his charge to 
the care of friends, among whom they found a permanent 

There were ardent abolitionists living almost within sight of 
slave territory that had no scruples about helping slaves across 
the line and passing them on to freedom. In 1836, Dr. 
David Nelson, a Virginian, who had freed his slaves and moved 
to Marion County, Missouri, and had there founded Marion 
College, was driven into Illinois on account of his anti-slavery 
views. He settled at Quincy, and soon established the Mission 
Institute, which was chiefly a school for the education of mis- 
sionaries. Mr. N. A. Hunt, now eighty-five years old but 
apparently of clear mind, was a student in Mission Institute 
in its early years. He relates an incident showing the spirit 
existing in the school, a spirit that manifested itself a little 
later in the actions of Messrs Burr, Work and Thompson. 
His story is that Dr. Nelson came to him one day in the 

1 Conversation with Jacob Cummings, Columbus, O., April, 1894. 

' Conversation vrith the daughter mentioned, now the wife of William 
Burghardt, Warsaw, N.Y., June, 1894. Article on the Underground Kail- 
road in the History of Warsaw, New York. 


spring of 1839 or 1840, and asked him to go with another 
student across the Mississippi River and patrol the shore op- 
posite Quincy. The students were to make signals at intervals 
by tapping stones together, and if their signals were answered 
they were to help such as needed help by conducting them 
to a place of safety, a station on the Underground Railroad, 
sixteen miles east of Quincy. The station could be easily 
recognized, for it was a red barn. The time chosen for cross- 
ing the river was always a Sunday night, a time known to be 
the best for the persons sometimes found waiting on the other 
side. This detailing of a watch from the school was regularly 
done, although with what results is not known.^ 

Among the students attending this Institute in 1841 were 
James E. Burr and George Thompson. These young men, 
together with a villager, Alanson Work, arranged with two 
slaves to convey them from bondage in Missouri. The ab- 
ductors found themselves surrounded by a crowd of angry 
Missourians, and were speedily committed to jail in Palmyra. 
To insure the conviction of the prisoners three indictments 
were brought against them, one charging them with " steal- 
ing slaves, another with attempting to steal them, and the 
other with intending to make the attempt." ^ Conviction was 
a foregone conclusion. Work and his companions were pro- 
nounced guilty and sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment. 
These men were not required, however, to serve out their 
terms. Mr. Work was pardoned after three and a half years 
on the unjust condition that he return with his wife and chil- 
dren to the State of Connecticut, his former residence. Mr. 
Burr was released at the end of a little more than four years 
and six months, and Mr. Thompson after nearly five years' 
imprisonment. The anti-slavery character of Mission Insti- 
tute at length brought down upon it the wrath of the Mis- 
sourians. One winter night a party from Marion County 
crossed the Mississippi River on the ice, stealthily marched 
to the Institute, and set it on fire.^ 

1 Letter from N. A. Hunt, of Riverside, Cal., Feb. 12, 1891. 

2 Quoted by Wilson, Bise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. II, 
p. 7L 

3 Asbury, History of Quincy, p. 74. The account of the Burr, Work and 
Thompson case occupies pp. 72, 73 and 74 of Asbury's volume. 


In southern Indiana operations similar to those of the 
students of the Mission Institute were carried on by a sup- 
posedly inoffensive pedler of notions, Joseph Sider. With 
his large convenient wagon Sider traversed some of the 
border counties of Kentucky, supplying goods to his cus- 
tomers ; one of his boxes was reserved for disguises for 
negroes that wished to cast off the garments of slavery. 
Sider's method involved the use of his vehicle for long trips 
to the Ohio River, where the passengers were conveyed by 
boat to a place of safety, and told to remain concealed until 
the wagon and team could be transported by ferry the follow- 
ing morning. So simple a plan did not excite suspicion, and 
served to carry fugitives rapidly forward to some line of 
underground traffic.^ 

Among those invasions of the South that caused consider- 
able excitement at the time of their occurrence, the cases of 
Calvin Fairbank, Seth Concklin and John Brown are notable ; 
and accounts of them cannot well be omitted from these 
pages, even though they may be more or less familiar to the 
reader. Mr. Calvin Fairbank came of English stock, and 
was born in Wyoming County, New York, in 1816. His 
home training as well as his attendance at Oberlin College 
furnished him with anti-slavery views, but the circumstance 
to which he traced his hearty hatred of the Southern institu- 
tion arose by chance, when as a boy he was attending quar- 
terly meeting with his parents. "It happened that my 
family was assigned," he relates, " to the good, clean home 
of a pair of escaped slaves. One night after service I sat on 
the hearthstone before the fire, and listened to the woman's 
story of sorrow. . . . My heart wept, my anger was kindled, 
and antagonism to slavery was fixed upon me." ^ In the 
spring of 1837 young Fairbank was sent by his father down 
the Ohio River in charge of a raft of lumber. A little below 
Wheeling he saw a large, active-looking, black man on the 
Virginia shore, going to the woods with his axe. He found 

1 E. Hicks Trueblood, "Reminiscences of the TTnderground Railroad," in 
the BepubUcan Leader, Salem, Ind., March 16, 1894. 

2 Sev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times, or How the Way was 
Prepared. Edited from his manuscript. Pp. 1-7. 


the woodsman to be a slave, soon gained his confidence, and 
set him across the river on the raft. A few days later Mr. 
Fairbank moored his rude craft, and landed on the Ken- 
tucky shore opposite the mouth of the Little Miami River. 
Here he was approached by an old slave-woman, who sought 
the liberation of her seven children. The matter was easily 
arranged, and after dark the seven were speedily conveyed 
across the river.^/ 

The rescue of Lewis Hayden and his family was the means 
of bringing Mr. Fairbank to the penitentiary, while it opened 
to his friend Hayden an honorable career in New England. 
Mr. Hayden became a respected citizen of Boston, and helped 
to organize the Vigilance Committee for the purpose of pro- 
tecting the refugees that were settling in the city ; in course 
of time he came to serve in the legislature of the State of 
Massachusetts. His wife, who survived him, made a bequest 
of an estate of about five thousand dollars to Harvard Uni- 
versity to found a scholarship for the benefit of deserving 
colored students.^ The story of Hayden's delivery and of 
his own imprisonment is best told in Mr. Fairbank's words : 
" Lewis Hayden . . . was, when a young man, . . . the 
property of Baxter and Grant, owners of the Brennan House, 
in Lexington. Hayden's wife, Harriet, and his son, a lad of 
ten years when I first knew them, were the slaves of Patrick 
Baine. On a September evening in 1844, accompanied by 
Miss D. A. Webster, a young Vermont lady, who was associ- 
ated with me in teaching, I left Lexington with the Haydens, 
in a hack, crossed the Ohio River on a ferry at nine the next 
morning, changed horses, and drove to an Underground Rail- 
road depot at Hopkins, Ohio, where we left Hayden and his 
family. . . . When Miss Webster and I returned to Lexing- 
ton, after two days' absence, we were both arrested, charged 
by their master with helping Hayden's wife and son to es- 
cape. We were jointly indicted, but Miss Webster was tried 
first and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in the peni- 
tentiary at Frankfort. . . . While my case was still pending 
I learned that the governor was inclined to pardon Miss 

1 Mev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times, pp. 12-14. 

2 Boston Weekly Transcript, Dec. 29, 1893. 


Webster, but first insisted tbat I sbould be tried. Wben 
called up for trial in February, 1845, I pleaded guilty, and 
received a sentence of fifteen years. I served four years and 
eleven months, and then, August 23, 1849, was released by 
Governor John J. Crittenden, the able and patriotic man 
who afterwards saved Kentucky to the Union." ^ 

In spite of his incarceration for aiding slaves to escape, and 
in the face of the heavier penalties laid by the new Fugitive 
Slave Law, passed shortly after his release from prison, Cal- 
vin Fairbank was soon engaged in similar enterprises. He 
declares, " I resisted its [the law's] execution whenever and 
wherever possible." ^ A little more than two years after his 
pardon Mr. Fairbank was again arrested, this time in Indiana, 
for carrying off Tamar, a young mulatto woman, who was 
claimed as property by A. L. Shotwell, of Louisville, Ken- 
tucky. Without process of law Mr. Fairbank was taken from 
the State of Indiana to Louisville, where he was tried in 
February, 1853. He was again sentenced to the state prison 
for a term of fifteen years, and while there was frequently 
subjected to the most brutal treatment. Altogether Mr. 
Fairbank spent seventeen years and four months of his life 
in prison for abducting slaves ; he says that during his second 
term he received at the hands of prison officials thirty-five 
thousand stripes.^ Having served more than twelve years of 
his second sentence, he was pardoned by acting Governor 
Richard T. Jacob. It was a singular occurrence that finally 
enabled Mr. Fairbank to regain his liberty. Among the 
friends upon whose favor he could rely was the lieutenant- 
governor of Kentucky, Richard T. Jacob, the son-in-law of 
Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri. Mr. Jacob was a man of 
strong anti-slavery tendencies, notwithstanding his political 
prominence and his private interests as a wealthy planter. 
The governor, Thomas E. Bramlette, was opposed to extend- 
ing the executive clemency to so notorious an offender as 
Mr. Fairbank. Early in 1864 General Speed S. Fry was 
detailed by President Lincoln to enroll all the negroes of 

1 The Chicago Tribune, Sunday, Jan. 29, 1893. 

2 Ibid. 

' Bev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times, pp. 138, 144. 


Kentucky, but he came into collision with Governor Bram- 
lette, who sought to prevent General Fry from carrying out 
his orders. Upon receiving information to this effect the 
President summoned the executive of Kentucky to Washing- 
ton to answer to charges ; and thereupon Mr. Jacob became 
acting governor. On his first day in office the new executive 
of Kentucky was accosted by General Fry with the remark, 
" Governor, the President thinks it would be well to make 
this Fairbank's day." On the morning following, the prisoner 
received a full and free pardon.^ 

Mr. Fairbank gives many interesting devices that he 
employed in his work to throw off pursuit. "Forty-seven 
slaves I guided toward the north star, in violation of the 
state codes of Virginia and Kentucky. I piloted them through 
the forests, mostly by night ; girls, fair and white, dressed as 
ladies; men and boys, as gentlemen, or servants; men in 
women's clothes, and women in men's clothes ; boys dressed 
as girls, and girls as boys ; on foot or on horseback, in 
buggies, carriages, common wagons, in and under loads of 
hay, straw, old furniture, boxes and bags ; crossing the Jor- 
dan of the slave, swimming or wading chin deep ; or in boats, 
or skiffs ; on rafts, and often on a pine log. And I never 
suffered one to be recaptured." ^ 

About 1850, Seth Concklin, a resident of Philadelphia, 
learned of the remarkable escape of Peter Still from Alabama 
to the Quaker City. Here the runaway was most happily 
favored in finding friends. WiUiam Still, his brother, from 
whom he had been separated by kidnappers long years 
before, was discovered almost immediately in the office of 
the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society; and Seth Concklin 
soon proffered himself as an agent to go into the South and 
bring away Peter Still's family. The fugitive himself first 
visited Alabama to see what could be done for his wife and 
children; but failing to accomplish anything he gratefully 
accepted the offer of the daring Philadelphian. Mr. Conck- 
lin expected to assume the character of a slave-owner and 

1 Sev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times, pp. 11, 104-143. See also 
the Chicago Tribune, Sunday, Jan. 29, 1893, p. 33. 

^ Sev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times, pp. 10 and 11. 


bring the Stills away as his servants ; he found, however, that 
the steamboats on the Tennessee River were too irregular to 
be depended on. He therefore returned north to Indiana, 
and arranged for the escape of the slave family across that 
state to Canada. The story of his second attempt at the 
South has a tragic ending, notwithstanding its favorable 
beginning. Having made a safe start and a long journey of 
seven days and nights in a rowboat the whole party was 
captured in southwestern Indiana. A letter from the Rev. 
N. R. Johnston to William Still, written soon after the catas- 
trophe, gives the following account of the affair : " On last 
Tuesday I mailed a letter to you, written by Seth ConckUn. 
I presume you have received that letter. It gave an account 
of the rescue of the family of your brother. If that is the 
last news you have had from them I have very painful intel- 
ligence for you. They passed on (north) from near Prince- 
ton, where I saw them. ... I think twenty-three miles 
above Vincennes, Ind., they were seized by a party of men, 
and lodged in jail. Telegraphic despatches were sent all 
through the South. I have since learned that the marshal 
of Evansville received a despatch from Tuscumbia to look 
out for them. By some means, he and the master, so says 
report, went to Vincennes and claimed the fugitives, chained 
Mr. Concklin, and hurried all off. . . ." ^ In a postscript, 
the same letter gave the rumor of Seth Concklin's escape 
from the boat on which he was being carried South ; but the 
newspapers brought reports of a different nature. Their 
statements represented that the man "Miller" — that is, 
ConckUn — " was found drowned, with his hands and feet in 
chains and his skull fractured." ^ The version of the trag- 
edy given by the claimant of the fugitives, McKiernon, was 
as follows : " Some time last march a white man by the name 
of Miller appeared in the nabourhood and abducted the 
above negroes, was caught at vincanes, Indi. with said ne- 
groes and was thare convicted of steling and remanded back 
to Ala. to Abide the penalty of the law and on his return 

1 Letter dated Evansville, Ind., March 31, 1851. Printed in Still's Under- 
ground Railroad Becords, pp. 30, 31. 

' Still, Underground Railroad Becords, p. 31. 



met his Just reward by getting drowned at the mouth of 
Cumberland River on the Ohio in attempting to make his 
escape." ^ Just how Concklin met his death will probably 
always remain a mystery. McKiernon's letter offered terms 
for the purchase of the poor slaves, but they were so exorbi- 
tant that they could not be accepted. Besides, it was not 
deemed proper to jeopardize the life of another agent on a 
mission so dangerous. 

It is well known that John Brown aided fugitive slaves 
whenever the opportunity occurred, as did his Puritan-bred 
father before him. We have no record, however, of his ab- 
ducting slaves from the South except in the case of his 
famous raid into Missouri in 1858. This exploit has a pecul- 
iar interest for us, not only as one of the most notable ab- 
ductions, but as being, in a special way, the prelude of that 
great plan in behalf of the enslaved that he sought to carry 
out at Harper's Ferry. After Captain Brown's return from 
the Eastern states to Kansas in 1858, he and his men en- 
camped for a few days at Bain's Fort. While here. Brown 
was appealed to by a slave, Jim Daniels, the chattel of one 
James Lawrence, of Missouri. Daniels had heard of Captain 
Brown, and, securing a permit to go about and sell brooms, 
had used it in making his way to Brown's camp.'' His 
prayer was " For help to get away," because he was soon to 
be sold, together with his wife, two children and a negro 
man.' Such a supplication could not be made in vain to 
John Brown. On the following night (December 20) 
Brown's raid into Missouri was made. Brown himself gives 
the account of it : * " Two small companies were made up to 
go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together 

1 Still, Underground Hailroad Records, p. 35. Letter dated South 
Florence, Ala., Aug. 6, 1851. 

2 Conversation with Samuel Harper and his wife, Jane Harper, the two 
surviving members of the company of slaves escorted to Canada by Brown in 
March, 1859. Their home since has been in or about Windsor. I found 
them there in the early part of August, 1895. 

' Halloway, History of Kansas. Quoted from John Brown's letters, Jan- 
uary, 1859 (pp. 539-545). 

* In a letter written by Brown, January, 1859, to the Neio York Tribune, 
in which paper it was published. It was also published in the Lawrence 
(Kansas) Bepublican. See Sanborn's Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 481. 




with otlier slaves. One of these companies I assumed to di- 
rect. We proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, 
liberated the slaves, and also took certain property supposed 
to belong to the estate. 

" We, however, learned before leaving that a portion of the 
articles we had taken belonged to a man living on the planta- 
tion as a tenant, and who was supposed to have no interest 
in the estate. We promptly returned to him all we had taken. 
We then went to another plantation, where we found five 
more slaves ; took some property and two white men. We 
moved all slowly away into the territory for some distance 
and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us 
as soon as they chose to do so. The other company freed 
one female slave, took some property, and, as I am in- 
formed, killed one white man (the master) who fought 
against liberation. . . ."^ 

The company responsible for the shooting of the slave- 
owner, David Cruse, was in charge of Kagi and Charles 
Stephens, also known as Whipple. When this party came 
to the house of Mr. Cruse the family had retired. There was 
no hesitation, however, on the part of the strangers in request- 
ing quarters for the night. Mrs. Cruse, her suspicions fully 
aroused, handed her husband his pistol. Jean Harper, the 
slave-woman that was taken from this house, asserts that her 
master would certainly have fired upon the intruders had not 
Whipple used his revolver first, with deadly effect. When 
the two squads came together the march back to Bain's Fort 
was begun. On the way thither Brown asked the slaves if 
they wanted to be free, and then promised to take them to a 
free country. Thus was Brown led to undertake one of his 
boldest adventures, one of the boldest indeed in the history of 
the Underground Road. With a mere handful of men he pur- 
posed to escort his band of freedmen on a journey of twenty- 
five hundred miles to Canada, in the dead of winter, and 
surrounded by the dangers that the publicity of his foray and 
the announcement of a reward of three thousand dollars for 
his arrest were likely to bring upon him. Brown and his 

1 SanTjom, lAfe and Letters of John Brown, pp. 482, 483 ; also Redpath, 
The Public Life of Captain John Brown, pp. 219, 220. 


company tarried only one day at Bain's Fort ; then proceeded 
northward by way of Topeka to the place of his friend, Dr. 
Doyle, five miles beyond, and then by way of Osawattomie, 
Holton and the house of Major J. B. Abbot near Lawrence, 
into Nebraska. Lawrence was reached January 24, 1859. 
At Holton a party of pursuers, two or three times as large 
as Brown's company, was dispersed in instant and ridiculous 
flight, and four prisoners and five horses were taken. The 
trip, after leaving Holton, was made amidst great perils. 
Under an escort of seventeen " Topeka boys " Brown pressed 
rapidly on to Nebraska City. At this point the passage 
of the Missouri was made on the ice, and the liberators 
with their charges arrived at Tabor in the first week of 
February. Here, Brown met with rebuff, "contrary to his 
expectation, and contrary to the whole former attitude 
of the people," we are told, "he was not welcomed, but, 
at a public meeting called for the purpose, was severely 
reprimanded as a disturber of the peace and safety of the 
village. Effecting a hasty departure from Tabor, and taking 
advantage of the protection offered by a few friendly families 
on the way, he and his party of fugitives came, on February 
20, 1859, to Grinnell, Iowa, where they were cordially received 
by the Hon. J. B. Grinnell, who entertained them in his house. 
Brown's next stop was made at Springdale, which place he 
reached on February 25. Here the fugitives were distributed 
among the Quaker families for safety and rest before continu- 
ing the journey to Canada. But soon rumors were afloat 
of the coming of the United States marshal, and it became 
necessary to secure for the negroes railroad transportation 
to Chicago. Kagi and Stephens, disguised as sportsmen, 
walked to Iowa City, enlisted the services of Mr. William 
Penn Clark, an influential anti-slavery citizen of that place, and 
by his efforts, supplemented by those of Hon. J. B. Grinnell, 
a freight car was got and held in readiness at West Liberty. 
The negroes were then brought down from Springdale (dis- 
tant but six miles) and, after spending a night in a grist-mill 
near the railway station, were ready to embark." ^ They were 

1 Irving B. Richman, John Brown among the Quakers, and Other Sketches, 
pp. 46, 47, 48. 


stowed away in the freight-car by Brown, Kagi and Stephens, 
and the car was made fast to a train from the West on the 
Chicago and Rock Island Road. " On reaching Chicago, 
Brown and his party were taken into friendly charge by 
Allen Pinkerton, the famous detective, and started for De- 
troit. On March 10 they were in Detroit and practically at 
their journey's end."^ On the twelfth the freedmen were, 
under Brown's direction, ferried across the Detroit River 
to Windsor, Canada. 

The trip from southern Kansas to the Canadian destination 
had consumed three weeks. The restoration of twelve per- 
sons to " their natural and inalienable rights with but one man 
killed " ^ was a result which Brown seems to have regarded as 
justifiable, but one the tragedy of which he certainly deplored.^ 
The manner in which this result had been accomplished was 
highly dramatic, and created great excitement throughout the 
country, especially in Missouri. Brown's biographer, James 
Redpath, writing in 1860, speaks thus of the consternation 
in the invaded state : " When the news of the invasion of 
Missouri spread, a wild panic went with it, which in a few 
days resulted in clearing Bates and Vernon counties of their 
slaves. Large numbers were sold south; many ran into the 
Territory and escaped ; others were removed farther inland. 
When John Brown made his invasion there were five hundred 
slaves in that district where there are not fifty negroes now." * 
The success of the expedition just narrated was well fitted 
to increase confidence in John Brown's determination, and to 
arouse enthusiasm among his numerous refugee friends in 
Canada. The story of the adventure was not unlikely to 
penetrate the remote regions of the South, and perhaps find 
lodgment in the retentive memories of many slaves. The 
publication in the New York Tribune of his letter defending 
his abduction of the Missouri chattels just as he was begin- 

• Irving B. Eiehman, John Brown among the Quakers, and Other Sketches, 
pp. 46, 47, 48. 

2 Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 483. See the letter 
of "The Parallels." 

' Hinton, John Brown and His Men, p. 221. 

* Redpath, The Public Life of Captain John Broion, p. 221. 


ning his journey east shows that Brown was not unwilling 
to have his act widely known. It was almost the middle 
of March when Brown arrived in Canada ; his letter had been 
made public in January ; it had had ample time for circula- 
tion. Before he left Kansas he said significantly, " He would 
soon remove the seat of the trouble elsewhere," ^ and it was 
but six months after his arrival in Canada that the attack on 
Harper's Ferry was made. 

For more than ten years John Brown had cherished a plan 
for the liberation of the slaves, in which abduction was to 
be in a measure employed. This plan he had revealed to 
Frederick Douglass as early as 1847. It is given in Douglass' 
words : " ' The true object to be sought,' said Brown, 'is first 
of all to destroy the money value of slave property ; and that 
can only be done by rendering such property insecure. My 
plan then is to take at first about twenty-five picked men, and 
begin on a small scale ; supply them arms and ammunition ; 
post them in squads of five on a line of twenty-five miles, the 
most persuasive and judicious of whom shall go down to the 
fields from time to time, as opportunity offers, and induce 
the slaves to join them, seeking and selecting the most rest- 
less and daring.' . . . With care and enterprise he thought 
he could soon gather a force of one hundred hardy men. . . . 
When these were properly drilled, . . . they would run off 
the slaves in larger numbers, retain the brave and strong ones 
in the mountains, and send the weak and timid to the North 
by the Underground Railroad: his operations would be en- 
larged with increasing numbers, and would not be confined 
to one locality. ... ' If,' said Brown, ' we could drive sla- 
very out of one county, ... it would weaken the system 
throughout the state.' The enemy's country would afford 
subsistence, the fastnesses of the AUeghanies abundant pro- 
tection, and a series of stations through Pennsylvania to the 
Canadian border a means of egress for timid slaves." ^ 

The plot, as disclosed eleven years later to Richard J. Hin- 
ton (September, 1858) by Brown's lieutenant, Kagi, contains 

1 Hinton, John Brown and His Men, p. 222, note. 

" Life of Frederick Douglass, 1881, pp. 280, 281 and 318, 319. Also Hin- 
ton, John Brown and His Men, pp. 30, 31, 32. 


some additional details of interest. Hinton says : " The 
mountains of Virginia were named as the place of refuge, 
and as a country admirably adapted in which to carry on 
a guerilla warfare. In the course of the conversation, 
Harper's Ferry was mentioned as a point to be seized — but 
not held - — on account of the arsenal. The white members of 
the company were to act as officers of different guerilla bands, 
which, under the general command of John Brown, were to 
be composed of Canadian refugees, and the Virginian slaves 
who would join them. . . . They anticipated, after the first 
blow had been struck, that, by the aid of the free and Cana- 
dian negroes who would join them, they could inspire confi- 
dence in the slaves, and induce them to rally. No intention 
was expressed of gathering a large body of slaves, and re- 
moving them to Canada. On the contrary, Kagi clearly 
stated, in answer to my inquiries, that the design was to 
make the fight in the mountains of Virginia, extending it 
to North Carolina and Tennessee, and also to the swamps 
of South Carolina, if possible. Their purpose was not the 
expatriation of one or a thousand slaves, but their liberation 
in the states wherein they were born, and were now held in 
bondage. . . . Kagi spoke of having marked out a chain 
of counties extending continuously through South Carolina, 
Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. He had traveled over a 
large portion of the region indicated, and from his own per- 
sonal knowledge and with the assistance of the Canadian 
negroes who had escaped from those States, they had arranged 
a general plan of attack. . . . They expected to be speedily 
and constantly reinforced ; first, by the arrival of those men 
who, in Canada, were anxiously looking and praying for the 
time of deliverance, and then by the slaves themselves. . . . 
The constitution adopted at Chatham [in the spring of 1858] 
was intended as the framework of organization among the 
emancipationists, to enable the leaders to effect a more com- 
plete control of their forces. . . ." ^ A comparison of these 
two versions of Brown's plan of liberation leads to the con- 
clusion that the abduction of slaves to the North was a 

1 Hinton, John Brown and His Men, Appendix, pp. 673, 674, 675. Also 
Eedpath, The Public Life of Captain John Brown, pp. 203, 204, 205. • 


measure to which the liberator never attached more impor- 
tance than as a means of ridding his men of the care of 
helpless slaves; the brave he would use in organizing an 
insurrection amid the mountains of the Southern states that 
should wipe away the curse of slavery from the country. 

It will be remembered that the occasion, if not the cause, 
of John Brown's raid into Missouri was the solicitation of 
aid by a slave for himself and companions. Such prayers 
for succor were not infrequently addressed to abolitionists 
by those in bonds or by their refugee friends. In the anti- 
slavery host there were many whose principles wavered not 
under any test applied to them, and whose impulses urged 
them upon humanitarian missions, however hemmed in by 
difficulties and dangers. Among those who heard and an- 
swered the cry of the slave were the Rev. Charles T. Torrey, 
Captain Jonathan Walker, Mrs. Laura S. Haviland, Captain 
Daniel Drayton, Richard Dillingham, William L. Chaplin 
and Josiah Henson. 

The variety of persons represented in this short, incomplete 
list is interesting : Mr. Torrey was a Congregational clergy- 
man of New England stock, and had been educated at Yale 
College ; Messrs. Walker and Drayton were masters of sailing 
vessels, and came from the states of Massachusetts and New 
Jersey respectively ; Mrs. Haviland was a Wesleyan Metho- 
dist, who founded a school or institute in southeastern Michi- 
gan for both white and colored persons ; Richard Dillingham 
was a Quaker school-teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio ; William L. 
Chaplin began his professional life as a lawyer in eastern 
Massachusetts, but soon became the editor of an anti-slavery 
newspaper ; and Josiah Henson was a fugitive slave, one of 
the founders of the Dawn Institute in Canada West. With 
the exception of the last named they were white persons, 
whose sense of the injustice of slavery caused them to take 
a stand that shut them out of that conventionally respectable 
society to which their birth, education and talents would have 
admitted them. 

In 1838 Charles T. Torrey resigned from the pastorate of 
a Congregational church in Providence, Rhode Island, and 
relinquished ease and quiet to engage in the anti-slavery 


struggle then agitating the country. He became a lecturer 
and a newspaper correspondent, and, early in the forties, the 
editor of a paper called The Patriot, at Albany, New York. 
While acting as Washington correspondent for several 
Northern papers he attended a convention of slave-owners 
at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1842, and was thrust into jail 
on the score of being an abolitionist. He was released after 
several days, having been placed under bonds to keep the 
peace. While in prison he solemnly reconsecrated himself 
to the work of freeing the slaves. Within a year from this 
time a refugee entreated Mr. Torrey to help him bring his 
wife and children from Virginia. The errand was under- 
taken, but came to a most mournful end. Arrested and 
imprisoned, Mr. Torrey with others attempted to break jail ; 
he was betrayed, however, and at length, December 30, 
1843, sentenced to the penitentiary for six years. Under the 
severities of prison life Mr. Torrey's health gave way. His 
pardon was sought by friends, but mercy was withheld from 
a man the depth of whose conviction made recantation im- 
possible. In December, 1844, he wrote : " I cannot afford to 
concede any truth or principle to get out of prison. I am 
not rich enough." While his trial was pending he wrote his 
friend, Henry B. Stanton : " If I am a guilty man, I am a very 
guilty one; for I have aided nearly four hundred slaves to 
escape to freedom, the greater part of whom would probably, 
but for my exertions, have died in slavery." Concerning this 
confession Henry Wilson writes : " This statement was corrob- 
orated by the testimony of Jacob Gibbs, a colored man, who 
was Mr. Torrey's chief assistant in his efforts." ^ On May 9, 
1846, Mr. Torrey died in prison. In death as in life, the 
lesson of the clergyman's career proclaimed but one truth, 
the injustice of slavery. When the remains of Mr. Torrey 
were conveyed to Boston for interment in the beautiful 
cemetery at Mt. Auburn, the use of Park Street Church, at 
first granted, was later refused to the brother-in-law of the 
dead minister, although as a worshipper he was entitled to 
Christian courtesy. Tremont Temple was procured for the 
funeral services, and was thronged by a multitude eager to 

1 "Wilson, Biae and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. n, p. 80. 


do honor to a life of self-sacrifice, and show disapproval of 
the affront to the dead. A large meeting in Faneuil Hall 
on the evening of the funeral day paid tribute to the memory 
of the liberator. The occasion was made memorable by a 
poem by James Russell Lowell, and addresses by General 
Fessenden of Maine, Henry B. Stanton and Dr. Walter 
Channing. Whittier wrote: "His work for the poor and 
helpless was well and nobly done. In the wild woods of 
Canada, around many a happy fireside and holy family altar, 
his name is on the lips of God's poor. He put his soul in 
their soul's stead; he gave his life for those who had no 
claim on his love save that of human brotherhood." ^ 

In 1844, the year after Mr. Torrey's disastrous attempt to 
abduct a slave-family, Captain Jonathan Walker was made 
a victim of the law on account of friendly offices undertaken 
in behalf of some trusting negroes. Once, while on the 
coast of Florida, Mr. Walker consented to ferry seven slaves 
from Pensacola to one of the neighboring Bahama Islands, 
where they might enjoy the freedom vouchsafed by English 
law. In the open boat used for the purpose Captain Walker 
suffered sunstroke, and on this account his craft was over- 
hauled, and the escaping party was taken into custody. 
After two trials Captain Walker was condemned to punish- 
ments that remind one strongly of the barbarous penalties 
inflicted upon offenders in the reign of Charles the First of 
England : he was sentenced to stand in the pillory ; to be 
branded on the hand with the letters S. S. (slave-stealer) ; to 
pay a fine and serve a term of imprisonment for each slave 
assisted ; to pay the costs of prosecution ; and to stand com- 
mitted until his fines should be paid. His treatment in 
prison was brutal, but he was not obliged to endure it long, 
for, by the intervention of friends, his fines were paid, and 
he was released in the summer of 1848. Subjected to indig- 
nities and disgrace in the South, Captain Walker was the 
recipient of many demonstrations of approval on his return 
to the North. Whittier blazoned his stigmas into a prophecy 

1 Quoted by "Wilson, in his History of the Bise and Fall of the Slave Power 
in America, Vol. II, p. 80. 


of deliverance for the slave. In a poem of welcome the dis- 
tinguished Quaker wrote : 

" Then lift that manly right hand, bold ploughman of the wave, 
Its branded palm shall prophesy ' Salvation to the Slave.' 
Hold up its fire-wrought language that whoso reads may feel 
His heart swell strong within him, his sinews change to steel." i 

These words were set to music by Mr. George W. Clark, and 
sung by him with thrilling effect at many anti-slavery gather- 
ings throughout New England. Mr. Walker became at once 
a conspicuous witness against the slave power in the great 
trial that was then going forward at the bar of public opinion. 
At Providence, Rhode Island, his return from the Florida 
prison was heralded, and a large reception was given him, 
attended by the Hon. Owen Lovejoy, brother of the martyr 
Love joy, Milton Clark, the white slave, and Lewis, his brother. 
It is said that three thousand people crowded the seats, aisles 
and doorways of the reception haU. In company with Mr. 
George W. Clark, Captain Walker was drafted into the work 
of arousing the masses, and the two agitators received a cor- 
dial hearing at many New England meetings. Doubtless the 
recital of the Captain's experiences intensified anti-slavery 
feeling throughout the Northern states.^ 

About 1847, Mrs. Laura S. Haviland accepted a mission to 
find the family of one John White, a slave, who had escaped 
from the South and was serving as a farm-hand in the neigh- 
borhood of Mrs. Haviland's school in southeastern IMichigan. 
Mrs. Haviland went to Cincinnati where she consulted with 
the Vigilance Committee, and thence to Rising Sun, Indiana, 
to secure the services of several of John White's colored 
friends. Here a plan was formed for i\Irs. Haviland to go 
into Kentucky to the plantation where the family lived, and, 
disguised as a berry picker, see the wife, inform her of her 

''■Liberator, Aug. 15, 1845, "The Branded Hand," quoted in part by 
WUson, History of the Bise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 
H, p. 83; Whittier's Poetical Works, Vol. Ill, Riverside edition, 1896, 
p. 114. 

' Reminiscences written by George W. Clark, by request, have been used 
to secure an intimate acquaintance with some of the men engaged iu the 
nnderground service. 


husband's whereabouts, and offer to assist in her rescue. Ac- 
complishing this errand and returning across the border into 
Indiana, Mrs. Haviland awaited the slave-woman's appear- 
ance; but her escape had been prevented by the vigilance 
evoked on account of the operations of counterfeiters in 
Kentucky. Then John White started South intent on 
saving his wife and children from slavery, but his efforts 
also were unsuccessful, and he was thrown into a Kentucky 
jail. However, he was soon released by Laura Haviland, 
who purchased him for three hundred and fifty dollars.^ 

In the summer of 1847, Captain Daniel Drayton sailed to 
Washington with a cargo of oysters, and while his boat was 
lying at the wharf he was cautiously approached by a negro, 
who wanted to get passage North for a woman and five chil- 
dren. The negro said the woman was a slave but that she 
had, under an agreement with her master, more than paid 
for her liberty, and when she asked for her " free papers " 
the master only answered by threatening to sell her South.^ 
Captain Drayton allowed the woman and her children and a 
niece to stow themselves on board his vessel, and he soon 
landed them at Frenchtown, to the great joy of the woman's 
husband, who was awaiting them there. 

It was by the suggestion of these fugitives that Captain Dray- 
ton undertook his important expedition with the schooner PearZ 
in 1848. On the evening of April 18 his boat was made fast 
at one of the Washington docks ready to receive a company 
of fugitives. The time seemed auspicious. The establish- 
ment of the new French Republic was being celebrated in 
the city by a grand torchlight procession, and slaves were 
left for the most part to their own devices. Thus favored, a 
large number escaped to the small craft of Captain Drayton 
and were carefully stowed away. The start was made with- 
out incident, and the vessel continued quietly on her course 
to the mouth of the Potomac; there, contrary winds were 
encountered, and the Pearl was brought to shelter in Corn- 
field Harbor, one hundred and forty miles from Washington. 
The disappearance of seventy-six slaves at one time caused 

1 Laura S. Haviland, A Woman's Life Work, pp. 91-110. 

2 Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton, 1853, p. 23. 


great excitement at the Capitol. The method of their depart- 
ure was revealed by a colored hackman, who had driven two 
of the fugitives to the wharf. An armed steamer was sent 
in pursuit, and the Pearl was obliged to surrender. Her 
arrival under guard at Washington was the occasion for re- 
joicing to an infuriated mob of several thousand persons. 
The slaves were committed to jail as runaways ; their helpers 
were with difficulty protected from murderous violence, and 
were escorted to the city prison. Under instructions from 
the district attorney twenty-four indictments were found 
against both Captain Drayton and his mate, Mr. Sayres. 
When the trial began in July, the list of indictments pre- 
sented comprised forty-one counts against each of these pris- 
oners. Three persons were prosecuted; and the aggregate 
amount of their bail was two hundred and twenty-eight thou- 
sand dollars. After two trials the accused were heavily sen- 
tenced, and remanded to jail until their fines should be paid. 
The sentence passed upon Captain Drayton required the pay- 
ment of fines and costs together amounting to ten thousand 
and sixty dollars, and until paid the prisoner must remain in 
jail indefinitely.^ His accomplices were treated with equal 
severity. Such penalties were accounted monstrous by the 
friends of the convicted, and efforts were constantly made to 
have the sentences mitigated or revoked. In 1852 Senator 
Sumner interested himself in behalf of the imprisoned liber- 
ators ; and President Fillmore was induced to grant them an 
unconditional pardon. 

The occurrence of these events at the national capital dur- 
ing a session of Congress, gave them a significance they would 
not otherwise have had. That they would become the subject of 
much fierce debate was assured by the presence in Congress 
of such champions as Messrs. Giddings and Hale for the anti- 
slavery party, and Messrs. Foote, Toombs, Calhoun and Davis 
for the pro-slavery party. Mr. Calhoun expressed the view 
of the South when, speaking upon a resolution brought be- 
fore the Senate by Mr. Hale, April 20, he recorded himself 
as being in favor of an act making penal " these atrocities, 
these piratical attempts, these wholesale captures, these rob- 
1 Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton, p. 102. 


beries of seventy odd of our slaves at a single grasp." In 
this and in similar utterances made at the time, he fore- 
shadowed the determination of the South to have a law 
that would restrain if possible from all temptations to aid 
or abet the escape of slaves. The result of this determina- 
tion is seen in the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. 

This notable voyage of the Pearl, which caused so great an 
excitement at the time, has been frequently chronicled, while 
the experiences of the young Quaker, Richard Dillingham, 
have been seldom recounted, though marked by the same ele- 
ments of daring and resignation. In December, 1848, the 
close of the year of the PearVs adventure, Mr. Dillingham 
was solicited by some colored people in Cincinnati, Ohio, to 
go to Tennessee and bring away their relatives, who were 
slaves under a " hard master " at Nashville. He entered upon 
the project, made his way into the very heart of the South and 
arranged with the slaves for their escape. At the time ap- 
pointed his thi'ee prot^g^s were placed in a closed carriage 
and driven rapidly away, Mr. Dillingham following on horse- 
back. The party got as far as Cumberland bridge, where 
they were betrayed by a colored man in whom confidence had 
been placed, and the fugitives and their benefactor were ar- 
rested. Mr. Dillingham was committed to jail, and his bail 
was fixed at seven thousand dollars. At his trial, which 
occurred April 12, 1849, Dillingham confessed, and asked 
for clemency, urging by way of explanation the dependence 
of his aged parents upon him as a stay and protection. As 
to the crime for which he was held he said fi-ankly: "I 
have violated your laws. . . . But I was prompted to it by 
feelings of humanity. It has been suspected . . . that I 
was leagued with a fraternity who are combined for the pur- 
pose of committing such offences as the one with which I am 
charged. But . . . the impression is false, I alone am guilty, 
I alone committed the offence, and I alone must suffer the 
penalty. ..." Yielding to his plea for clemency the jury 
returned a verdict for three years in the penitentiary, the 
mildest sentence allowed by the law for the offence. The 
Nashville Daily G-azette of April 13 did not conceal the 
fact that Mr. Dillingham belonged to a respectable family, 


and stated that he was not without the sympathy of those 
who attended the trial.^ The prisoner himself was most 
grateful for the consideration shown him, and, in a letter to 
his betrothed written two days after his trial, he spoke of his 
short sentence with the deepest gratitude and thankfulness 
toward the court and jury and the prosecutors themselves. 
" My sentence," he added, " is far more lenient than my most 
sanguine hopes have ever anticipated." ^ The termination 
of the imprisonment of Dillingham was most melancholy. 
Separated from his aged parents, to whom he was devoted, 
and from the woman that was to have become his wife, 
his health soon proved unequal to the severe experiences 
of prison life; his keepers after nine months gave him 
respite from heavy work about the prison, and assigned him 
the place of steward in the hospital. He had not long been 
in his new station when cholera broke out among the con- 
victs, and his services were in constant demand. His strength 
was soon exhausted, and about the first of August, 1850, 
he succumbed to the dread epidemic raging in the prison.^ 

It was the year in which young Dillingham came to his 
melancholy end that Mr. William L. Chaplin was found 
guilty of an offence similar to that for which Dillingham 
suffered.* When Mr. ChETrles T. Torrey, editor of the Albany 
Patriot, was sent to the Maryland penitentiary for aiding 
slaves to escape, Mr. Chaplin assumed control of Mr. Torrey's 
paper. Like his predecessor, Mr. Chaplin spent part of his 
time in the city of Washington reporting congressional pro- 
ceedings for the Patriot, and like him could not be deaf to 
an entreaty in behalf of slaves. In 1850 Mr. Chaplin was 
prevailed upon to attempt the release from bondage of two 

1 A. L. Benedict, Memoir of Richard Dillingham, 1852, p. 18. Also Harriet 
Beecher Stows, A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, pp. 58, 59. 

2 A. L. Benedict, Memoir of JRichard Dillingham, p. 18. 

' This account of Richard Dillingham is ha-sed on the Memoir written by 
his friend, A. L. Benedict, a Quaker, and puhlished in 1852. Abridged 
versions of this memoir will be found in the Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, 
Appendix, pp. 713-718 ; and Howe's Sistorical Collections of Ohio, Vol. II, 
p. 590. 

* Wilson, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Fewer in America, 
Vol. n, pp. 80-82. 


negroes, one the property of Eobert Toombs, the other, of 
Alexander H. Stephens. The sequel to this enterprise is 
thus recounted by Mr. George W. Clark, an intimate friend 
of General Chaplin's: "Suspicion was somehow awakened 
and watch set; the General was intercepted, arrested and 
imprisoned, and the attempt failed. The General gave bail. 
Secretary Seward being on his bond for five thousand dollars. 
While passing through Baltimore on his return home he was 
rearrested and put into . . . prison there, on a charge of aiding 
slaves to escape from that state. The bonds required were 
twenty thousand dollars. ... It was arranged that William 
R. Smith, a noble and generous-hearted Quaker, and George 
W. Clark should traverse the State and appeal to the friends 
of humanity for contributions to save the General from the 
fate we feared awaited him, for if his case went to trial he 
would probably be sentenced to fifteen years in their State 
Prison, which would no doubt amount to a death sentence. 
William R. Smith and I went to work in live earnest. An 
abolition merchant, Mr. Chittenden of New York, gave us 
three thousand dollars, the always giving Gerrit Smith gave 
us five thousand, other friends gave us two thousand, but 
we still lacked ten thousand. . . . We were in great distress 
and anxiety over the extreme situation when the generous 
Gerrit Smith voluntarily came again to the rescue and ad- 
vanced the other ten thousand dollars." It was in this way, 
through the most open-handed generosity of his friends, that 
Mr. Chaplin was enabled to go free after being in jail only 
five months. Prudence dictated the sacrificing of the exces- 
sive bail rather than the braving of fortune through a trial 
certain to end in conviction. 

We have thus far considered the recorded efforts toward 
the abduction of slaves made by six persons in response to the 
entreaty of the slaves concerned or of some of their friends. 
It is noteworthy that in the case of five of these persons their 
efforts, first or last, were calamitous, and that all were white 
persons. We come now to the case of Josiah Henson, excep- 
tional in the series, by reason of the uniform success of his 
endeavors, and because of his race connections. Born and 
bred a slave, Henson at length resolved to extricate himself 


and family from the abjectness of their situation. "With 
a degree of prudence, courage and address," says Mrs. Harriet 
Beecher Stowe, "which can scarcely find a parallel in any 
history, he managed with his wife and two children to escape 
to Canada. Here he learned to read, and, by his superior 
talent and capacity for management, laid the foundation for 
the fugitive settlement of Dawn. . . . " ^ The possession of 
the qualities indicated in this characterization of Mr. Henson 
rendered him equal to such emergencies as arose in his 
missions to the South in search of friends and relatives of 
Canadian refugees. 

Mr. Henson has left us the record of two journeys to the 
Southern states, made at the instance of James Lightfoot, 
a refugee of Fort Erie, Ontario.^ Lightfoot had a number 
of relatives in slavery near Maysville, Kentucky, and was 
ready to use the little property he had accumulated during 
the short period of his freedom in securing the liberation of 
his family. Beginning the journey alone, Mr. Henson travelled 
on foot about four hundred miles through New York, Penn- 
sylvania and Ohio, to his destination. The fact that the 
Lightfoots decided it to be unsafe to make their escape at this 
time did not prevent their visitor from agreeing to come a 
year later for them, nor did it prevent him from returning to 
Canada with companions. He went nearly fifty miles into the 
interior of Kentucky, where, as he learned, there was a large 
party eager to set out for a land of freedom, but waiting until 
an experienced leader should appear. In Bourbon County he 
found about thirty fugitives collected from different states, 
and with these he started northward. Mr. Henson gives his 
itinerary in the following words : " We succeeded in crossing 
the Ohio River in safety, and arrived in Cincinnati the third 
night after our departure. Here we procured assistance ; and, 
after stopping a short time to rest, we started for Richmond, 
Indiana. This is a town which had been settled by Quakers, 
and there we found friends indeed, who at once helped us on 
our way, without loss of time ; and after a difficult journey 

^ A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1853, Boston edition of 1896, pp. 274, 
275 ; also Father Benson's Story of Sis Own Life, 1858, chaps, xii, xlii. 
2 Father Benson's Story of Bis Own Life, chaps, xvi, xvii. 


of two weeks through the wilderness, reached Toledo, Ohio, 
. . . and there we took passage for Canada." ^ In the autumn 
of the year following this abduction Mr. Henson again visited 
Kentucky. This time several of the Lightfoots were willing 
to go North with him, and a Saturday night after dark was 
chosen as the time for setting out. In spite of some untoward 
happenings during the early part of the journey, and of pur- 
suit even to Lake Erie, the daring guide and his party of four 
or five were put aboard a sailing-vessel and safely landed on 
Canadian soil. " Words cannot describe," writes Mr. Henson, 
" the feelings experienced by my companions as they neared 
the shore ; their bosoms were swelling with inexpressible joy 
as they mounted the seats of the boat, ready eagerly to spring 
forward, that they might touch the soil of the freeman. And 
when they reached the shore they danced and wept for joy, 
and kissed the earth on which they first stepped, no longer 
the Slave, but the Free.'''' Mr. Henson asserts, that "by 
similar means to those above narrated," he was "instrumental 
in delivering one hundred and eighteen human beings " from 

Important and interesting among the abductors are the few 
individuals that we must call, for want of a better designation, 
the devotees of abduction. We have already considered a 
person of this type in the odd character, John Fairfield, the 
Vir^nian. There are several other persons known to have 
been not less zealous than he in their violation of what were 
held in the South to be legitimate property rights. The 
names of these adventurous liberators are Rial Cheadle, Alex- 
ander M. Ross, Elijah Anderson, John Mason and Harriet 

Rial Cheadle appears to have been a familiar figure among 
the abolitionists of southeastern Ohio. Mr. Thomas L. Gray, 
a reputable citizen of Deavertown, Ohio, for many years en- 
gaged in underground operations in Morgan County, vouches 
for the extended and aggressive work of Cheadle, who fre- 
quently stopped at Mr. Gray's house for rest and refreshment 

1 Father Henson' s Story of His Own Life, pp. 149, 150. 

2 Ibid., pp. 162, 163. 


on his midnight trips to Zanesville and stations farther on.^ 
Cheadle seems to have been a man of eccentricities, if not of 
actual aberration of mind ; or his oddities may have been as- 
sumed to prevent himself being taken seriously by those he 
wanted to despoil. He is said to have lived in Windsor 
Township, Morgan County, Ohio, on the site of the present 
village of Stockport, and to have engaged in teaching and 
other occupations for a time ; finally, however, he devoted him- 
self to the work of the Underground Road. He indulged him- 
self in old-time minstrelsy, composing songs, which he sang for 
the entertainment of himself and others, and he thereby in- 
creased, doubtless, the reputation for harmless imbecility, which 
he seems to have borne among those ignorant of his purpose. 
He paid occasional visits to Virginia. "As a result it is 
said the slaves were frequently missing, but as his arrange- 
ments were carefully made the object of his visit was usually 
successful. . . . His habits were so well known to those who 
gave food and shelter to the negro that they were seldom un- 
prepared for a nocturnal visit from him. . . . After the 
Emancipation, he said he was like Simeon of old, ' ready to 
depart.' He died in 1867." 2 

A man differing greatly from Rial Cheadle in all respects, 
save the intensity of his compassion for the slave, was the 
abductor Alexander M. Ross. Born in 1832 in the Prov- 
ince of Ontario, Canada, Mr. Ross sought, when a yo^g 
man, to inform himself upon the question of American 
slavery, not only from the teachings of some of the fore- 
most anti-slavery leaders of England and the United States, 
but also from the recital of their experiences by a number of 
fugitive slaves that had found an asylum in the province of 
his birth. While he was engaged in making inquiries among 
the refugees. Uncle Tom's Cabin was published, and brought 
conviction to many minds. "To me," writes Mr. Ross, "it 
was a command. A deep and settled conviction impressed 

1 The New Lexington (Ohio) Tribune, -winter of 1885-1886. Some in- 
formation in regard to Cheadle appears in a series of articles on the Under- 
ground Railroad contributed to this paper by Mr. Gray. 

2 History of Morgan County, Ohio, 1886, published by Charles Robertson, 
M.D., article on the Underground Railroad. 


me that it was my duty to lielp the oppressed to free- 
dom. . . . My resolution was taken to devote all my en- 
ergies to let the oppressed go free." ^ In accordance with 
this resolution young Ross left Canada in November, 1856. 
He visited Gerrit Smith, at Peterboro, New York, who was 
ever ready to encourage the liberation of the slave, and who 
went with him to Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and 
westward into the states of Ohio and Indiana. The purpose 
of these travels was, evidently, to acquaint the intending 
liberator with the means to be employed by him in his new 
work, and with the persons in connection with whom he was 
to operate. Indeed, Mr. Ross distinctly says, in speaking of 
these visits, "I was initiated into a knowledge of the relief 
societies, and the methods adopted to circulate information 
among the slaves of the South; the routes to be taken by 
the slaves, after reaching the so-called free states ; and the 
relief posts, where shelter and aid for transportation could be 
obtained." ^ His chief supporters, besides Gerrit Smith, were 
Theodore Parker and Lewis Tappan.* 

During his expeditions Mr. Ross spread the knowledge of 
Canada among the slaves in the neighborhood of a number of 
Southern cities, such as Richmond, Virginia, Nashville, Ten- 
nessee, Columbus and Vicksburg, Mississippi, Selma and 
Huntsville, Alabama, Augusta, Georgia, and Charleston, 
South Carolina. His method of procedure was fixed in its 
details only after his arrival upon the scene of action; an 
ostensible interest or purpose was kept to the fore, and the 
real business of spreading the gospel of escape was reserved 
for clandestine conferences with slaves chosen on the score of 
intelligence and trustworthiness. These persons were in- 
formed how Canada could be best reached, and were told to 
spread with care the information among their fellows. If 
any decided within a few days that they would act upon the 
advice given them, explicit instructions were repeated to 

1 Dr. Alexander Milton Ross, Recollections and Experiences of an Aboli- 
tionist; from 1855 to 1865, 2d ed., 1876, p. 3. The first edition of tMs 
book was issued in 1867. Por this and other works of Mr. Ross see Promi- 
nent Men of Canada, pp. 118, 119, 120. 

^ Ross, Recollections and, Experiences of an Abolitionist, p. 5. 

8 Ibid., p. 8. 

3 5, 


them, and they were supplied with compasses, knives, pistols, 
money and such provisions as they needed. Thus equipped, 
they were started on their long and dangerous journey. Oc- 
casionally, when circumstances seemed to require it, Mr. Ross 
would personally guide the party to a station of the Under- 
ground Road, or even accompany it to Canada ; otherwise he 
betook himself in haste to some new field of labor. The un- 
impeachable character of Mr. Ross, and the early appearance 
of the first edition of his Recollections make his reminiscences 
especially valuable and worth quoting. Mr. Ross began his 
work at Richmond early in the year 1857. His narrative of 
his first venture is as follows : " On my arrival in Richmond, 
I went to the house of a gentleman to whom I had been 
directed, and who was known at the North to be a friend of 
freedom. I spent a few weeks in quietly determining upon 
the best plans to adopt. Having finally decided upon my 
course, I invited a number of the most intelligent, active and 
reliable slaves to meet me at the house of a colored preacher, 
on a Sunday evening. On the night appointed for this meet- 
ing, forty-two slaves came to hear what prospect there was 
for an escape from bondage. ... I explained to them my 
. . . purpose in visiting the slave states, the various routes 
from Virginia to Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the names of 
friends in border towns who would help them on to Canada. 
I requested them to circulate this information discreetly 
among all upon whom they could rely. ... I requested as 
many as were ready to accept my offer, to come to the same 
house on the following Sunday evening, prepared to take 
the ' Underground Railroad ' to Canada. 

" On the evening appointed nine stout, intelligent young 
men declared their determination to gain their freedom, or 
die in the attempt. To each I gave a few dollars in money, 
a pocket compass, knife, pistol, and as much cold meat and 
bread as each could carry with ease. I again explained to 
them the route. ... I never met more apt students than 
these poor fellows. . . . They were to travel only by night, 
resting in some secure spot during the day. Their route was 
to be through Pennsylvania, to Erie on Lake Erie, and from 
thence to Canada. ... I learned, many months after, that 


they all had arrived safely in Canada. (In 1863 I enlisted 
three of these brave fellows in a colored regiment in Phila- 
delphia, for service in the war that gave freedom to their 

race.)" ^ 

Mr. Ross was a naturalist, and his tastes in this direction 
furnished him many good pretexts for excursions. A jour- 
ney into the far South was made in the guise of an ornithol- 
ogist. Describing his trip to the cotton states Mr. Ross 
says : " Finally my preparations were completed, and, sup- 
plied with a shot-gun and materials for preserving bird-skins, 
I began my journey into the interior of the country. . . . 
Soon after my arrival at Vicksburg I was busily engaged in 
collecting ornithological specimens. I made frequent visits 
to the surrounding plantations, seizing every favorable op- 
portunity to converse with the more intelligent slaves. 
Many of these negroes had heard of Canada from the ne- 
groes brought from Virginia and the border slave states ; 
but the impression they had was, that Canada being so far 
away, it would be useless to try and reach it. On these ex- 
cursions I was usually accompanied by one or two smart, 
intelligent slaves, to whom I felt I could trust the secret of 
my visit. In this way I succeeded in circulating a know- 
ledge of Canada, and the best means of reaching that coun- 
try, to all the plantations for many miles around Vicksburg. 
... I continued my labors in the vicinity of Vicksburg 
for several weeks and then went to Selma, Alabama." ^ 

In the ways described in these selections Mr. Ross induced 
companies of slaves to exchange bondage for freedom. How 
many he thus liberated we have, of course, no means of 
knowing. The risks he ran were such as to put his life in 
danger almost constantly. Betrayal would have ended, 
probably, in a lynching ; and the disappearance simultane- 
ously of a band of fugitives and the unknown naturalist was 
a coincidence not only sure to be noticed, but also widely 
published, thus increasing the dangers many fold. It is un- 
necessary to recount the occasions upon which the scientist 
found himself in danger of falling a victim to his zeal in 

1 Ross, Secollections and Experiences of an Abolitionist, pp. 10, 11, 12. 

2 Ihid., pp. 37, 38, 39. 


befriending slaves. Suffice it to say, his adventures all had 
a fortunate termination. Mr. Ross is best known by his 
numerous works relating to the flora and fauna of Canada, 
for which he received recognition among learned men, and 
decoration at the hands of European princes." ^ 

Elijah Anderson, a negro, has been described by Mr. Rush 
R. Sloane, an underground veteran of northwestern Ohio, as 
the " general superintendent " of the underground system in 
this section of Ohio. Mr. Anderson's work began before the 
enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, and continued 
until the time of his incarceration in the state prison at 
Frankfort, Kentucky, where he died in 1857. During this 
period his activity must have been unceasing, for he is 
quoted as having said in 1855 that he had conducted in all 
more than a thousand fugitives from slavery to freedom, 
having brought eight hundred away after the passage of the 
act of 1850. Not all of these persons were piloted to San- 
dusky, although that city was the point to which Anderson 
usually conveyed his passengers. After the opening of the 
Cleveland and Cincinnati Railroad he took many to Cleve- 

The last two of the devotees of abduction to be considered 
in this chapter are persons that were themselves fugitive 
slaves, John Mason and Harriet Tubman. 

Our only source of information about John Mason is an 
account printed in 1860, by the Rev. W. M. Mitchell, a col- 
ored missionary sent to minister to the refugees of Toronto 
by the American Baptist Free Mission Society.' This may be 

1 Mr. Richard J. Hinton in his book entitled John Brown and His Men, 
p. 171, while writing of Captain Brown's convention at Chatham, Canada 
West, mentions Mr. Eoss in the following words: "Dr. Alexander M. Eoss 
of Toronto, Canada, physician and ornithologist, who is still living, honored 
by all who know him, then a young (white) man who devoted himself for 
years to aiding the American slave, was a frequent visitor to this section 
(Chatham). He was a faithful friend of John Brown, efificient as an ally, 
seeking to serve under all conditions of need and peril." 

More or less extended notices of Dr. Ross and his work have appeared 
during the past few years ; for example, in the Toronto Globe, Dec. 3 and 
10, 1892 ; in the Canadian Magazine of Politics, Science, Art and Litera- 
ture, May, 1896 ; and in the Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean, March 18, 1896. 

2 The Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888, p. 44. » See p. 3, Chapter L 


accepted as a credible source. The author has printed in the 
little book in which the account appears testimonials that 
serve to identify him, but better than these are the references 
found in the body of the book to underground matters per- 
taining to southern Ohio that have been made familiar 
through other channels of information. The statements of 
Mr. Mitchell, thus supported, lend the color of probability to 
other statements of his not corroborated by any information 
now to be obtained, especially since these are in keeping with 
known manifestations of liberating zeal. We may therefore 
use the narrative relating to John Mason with a certain de- 
gree of assurance as to its accuracy. 

While engaged in Underground Railroad operations in Ohio 
Mr. Mitchell became acquainted with John Mason, a fugitive 
slave from Kentucky. He had obtained his liberty but was 
not content to see his fellows go without theirs, and " was 
willing," wrote Mr. Mitchell, "to risk the forfeiture of his 
own freedom, that he might, peradventure, secure the liberty 
of some. He commenced the perilous business of going into 
the State from whence he had escaped and especially into his 
old neighborhood, decoying off his brethren to Canada. . . . 
This slave brought to my house in nineteen months 265 hu- 
man beings whom he had been instrumental in redeeming 
from slavery ; all of whom I had the privilege of forwarding 
to Canada by the Underground Railroad. . . . He kept no 
record as to the number he had assisted in this way. I have 
only been able, from conversations with him on the subject, 
to ascertain about 1,300, whom he delivered to abolitionists 
to be forwarded to Canada. Poor man ! he was finally cap- 
tured and sold. He had been towards the interior of Ken- 
tucky, about fifty miles ; it was while returning with four 
slaves that he was captured. . . . Daylight came on them, 
they concealed themselves under stacks of corn, which served 
them for food, as well as protection from the weather and 
passers-by. . . . Late in the afternoon of that day, in the 
distance was heard the baying of negro-hounds on their track; 
escape was impossible. . . . When the four slaves saw their 
masters they said, ' J. M., we can't fight.' He endeavored to 
rally their courage . . . but to no purpose. . . . Their leader 


resisted, but both his arms were broken, and his body other- 
wise abused. . . . Though he had changed his name, as most 
slaves do on running away, he told his master's name and to 
him he was delivered. He was eventually sold and was 
taken to New Orleans. . . . Yet in one year, five months, 
and twenty days, I received a letter from this man, John 
Mason, from Hamilton, Canada West. Let a man walk abroad 
on Freedom's Sunny Plains, and having once drunk of its 
celestial ' stream whereof maketh glad the city of our God,' 
afterward reduce this man to slavery, it is next to an impos- 
sibility to retain him in slavery." ^ 

Harriet Tubman, like John Mason, did not reckon the 
value of her own liberty in comparison with the hberty of 
others who had not tasted its sweets. Like him, she saw in 
the oppression of her race the sufferings of the enslaved 
Israelites, and was not slow to demand that the Pharaoh of 
the South should let her people go. She was known to many 
of the anti-slavery leaders of her generation ; her personality 
and her power were such that none of them ever forgot the 
high virtues of this simple black woman. Governor William 
H. Seward, of ISTew York, wrote of her : " I have known Har- 
riet long, and a nobler, higher spirit or a truer, seldom dwells 
in human form." ^ Gerrit Smith declared : " I am convinced 
that she is not only truthful, but that she has a rare discern- 
ment, and a deep and sublime philanthropy." ^ John Brown 
introduced her to Wendell Phillips in Boston, saying, " I bring 
you one of the best and bravest persons on this continent — 
General Tubman as we call her." * Frederick Douglass testi- 
fied : " Excepting John Brown, of sacred memory, I know of 
no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hard- 
ships to serve our enslaved people than you have. Much that 

1 Mitchell, The Underground Railroad, p. 20 et seg. 

" Sarah H. Bradford, Harriet the Moses of Her People, p. 76. See also 
Appendix, p. 137. These testimonials were given in 1868 and were printed 
in connection with a short biography of Harriet in the year mentioned. The 
first edition of this biography has not been accessible to me, but it is mentioned 
by the Rev. Samuel J. May in his Becollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict, 
published the following year. The second edition of the book appeared in 

' Ibid., p. 139. * Hinton, John Brown and His Men, p. 173. 


you have done would seem improbable to tliose who do not 
know you as I know you. . . ."^ Mr. F. B. Sanborn said: 
"She has often been in Concord, where she resided at the 
houses of Emerson, Alcott, the Whitneys, the Brooks family, 
Mrs. Horace Mann, and other well-known persons. They all 
admired and respected her, and nobody doubted the reality of 
her adventures. . . ."^ The Rev. S. J. May knew Harriet per- 
sonally, and speaks with admiration, not only of the work she 
did in emancipating numbers of her own people, but also of 
the important services she rendered the nation during the 
Civil War both as a nurse and as " the leader of soldiers in 
scouting-parties and raids. She seemed to know no fear and 
scarcely ever fatigue. They called her their Moses." ^ 

The name, Moses, was that by which this woman was 
commonly known. She earned it by the qualities of leader- 
ship displayed in conducting bands of slaves through devious 
ways and manifold perils out of their " land of Egypt." She 
first learned what liberty was for herself about the year 
1849. She made her way from Maryland, her home as a 
slave, to Philadelphia, and there by industry gathered to- 
gether a sum of money with which to begin her humane and 
self-imposed labors. In December, 1850, she went to Balti- 
more and abducted her sister and two children. A few 
months later she brought away another company of three per- 
sons, one of whom was her brother. From this time on tiU 
the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion her excursions were 
frequent. She is said to have accomplished nineteen such 
trips, and emancipated over three hundred slaves.* As may 
be surmised, she had encouragement in her undertakings ; 
but her main dependence was upon her own efforts. AU 
her wages were laid aside for the purpose of emancipating 
her people. Whenever she had secured a sufficient sum, 
she would disappear from her Northern home, work her 
passage South, and meet the band of expectant slaves, whom 
she had forewarned of her coming in some mysterious way. 

1 Mrs. Bradford, Harriet the Moses of Her People, p. 135. 

2 Ibid., pp. 136, 137. 8 Ibid., p. 406. 

^ James Freeman Clarke, Anti-Slavery Days, pp. 81, 82. Also M. 6. 
McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 62. 


Her sagacity was one of her most marked traits ; it was 
displayed constantly in her management of her little cara- 
vans. Thus she would take the precaution to start with her 
pilgrims on Saturday night so that they could be well along 
on their journey before they were advertised. Posters giv- 
ing descriptions of the runaways and offering a considerable 
reward for their arrest were a common means of making 
public the loss of slave property. Harriet often paid a 
negro to follow the man who posted the descriptions of her 
companions and tear them down. When there were babies 
in the party she sometimes drugged them with paregoric and 
had them carried in baskets. She knew where friends could 
be found that would give shelter to her weary freedmen. If 
at any stage of the journey she were compelled to leave her 
companions and forage for supplies she would disclose her- 
self on her return through the strains of a favorite song : — 

Dark and thorny is de pathway, 
Where de pilgrim makes his ways ; 

But beyond dis vale of sorrow, 
Lie de fields of endless days. 

Sometimes when hard pressed by pursuers she would take 
a train southward with her companions ; she knew that no 
one would suspect fugitives travelling in that direction. 
Harriet was a well-known visitor at the offices of the anti- 
slavery societies in Philadelphia and New York, and at first 
she seems to have been content if her prot^g^s arrived safely 
among friends in either of these cities ; but after she com- 
prehended the Fugitive Slave Law she preferred to accom- 
pany them aU the way to Canada. " I wouldn't," she said, 
" trust Uncle Sam wid my people no longer." ^ She knew 
the need of discipline in effecting her rough, overland 
marches, and she therefore required strict obedience of her 
followers. The discouragement of an individual could not 
be permitted to endanger the liberty and safety of the whole 
party; accordingly she sometimes strengthened the fainting 
heart by threatening to use her revolver, and declaring, 
" Dead niggers teU no tales, you go on or die." She was 
1 Mrs. Bradford, Harriet the Moses of Her People, p. 39. 


not less lenient with herself. The safety of her companions 
was her chief concern ; she would not allow her labors to be 
lightened by any course likely to increase the chances of 
their discovery. On one occasion, while leading a company, 
she experienced a feeling that danger was near ; unhesitat- 
ingly she decided to ford a river near by, because she must 
do so to be safe. Her followers were afraid to cross, but 
Harriet, despite the severity of the weather (the month was 
March), and her ignorance of the depth of the stream, 
walked resolutely into the water and led the way to the op- 
posite shore. It was found that oiificers were lying in wait 
for the party on the route first intended. 

Like many of her race Harriet was a thorough-going 
mystic. The Quaker, Thomas Garrett, said of her : "... 
I never met with any person, of any color, who had more 
confidence in the voice of God, as spoken to her soul. She 
has frequently told me that she talked with God, and he 
talked with her, every day of her life, and she has declared to 
me that she felt no more fear of being arrested by her former 
master, or any other person, when in his immediate neighbor- 
hood, than she did in the State of New York, or Canada, for 
she said she never ventured only where God sent her. Her 
faith in the Supreme Power truly was great." ^ This faith 
never deserted her in her times of peril. She explained her 
many deliverances as Harriet Beecher Stowe accounted for 
the power and effect of Uncle TorrCs Cabin. She insisted it 
was all God's doing. " Jes so long as he wanted to use me," 
said Mrs. Tubman, " he would take keer of me, an' when he 
didn't want me no longer, I was ready to go. I always tole 
him, I'm gwine to hole stiddy on to you, an' you've got to 
see me trou." ^ 

In 1857, Mrs. Tubman made what has been called her 
most venturesome journey. She had brought several of her 
brothers and sisters from slavery, but had not hit upon a 
method to release her aged parents. The chief difficulty lay 
in the fact that they were unable to walk long distances. At 
length she devised a plan and carried it through. A home- 

1 Mrs. Bradford, Harriet the Moses of Her People, pp. 83, 84. 

2 lUci., p. 61, 


made conveyance was patched together, and an old horse 
brought into use. Mr. Garrett describes the vehicle as con- 
sisting of a pair of old chaise-wheels, with a board on the 
axle to sit on and another board swinging by ropes from the 
axle on which to rest their feet. This rude contrivance 
Harriet used in conveying her parents to the railroad, where 
they were put aboard the cars for Wilmington ; and she fol- 
lowed them in her novel vehicle. At Wilmington, Friend 
Garrett was sought out by the bold abductor, and he furnished 
her with money to take all of them to Canada. He after- 
wards sold their horse and sent them the money. Harriet 
and her family did not long remain in Canada ; Auburn, 
New York, was deemed a preferable place ; and here a small 
property was bought on easy terms of Governor Seward, to 
provide a home for the enfranchised mother and father. 

Before Harriet had finished paying for her bit of real es- 
tate, the Civil War broke out. Governor Andrew of Massa- 
chusetts, appreciating the sagacity, bravery and kindliness of 
the woman, soon summoned her to go into the South to serve 
as a scout, and when necessary as a hospital nurse. That her 
services were valuable was the testimony of officers under 
whom she served; thus General Rufus Saxton wrote in 
March, 1868 : " I can bear witness to the value of her services 
in South Carolina and Florida. She was employed in the 
hospitals and as a spy. She made many a raid inside the 
enemies' hues, displaying remarkable courage, zeal and 
fidelity." i 

At the conclusion of the great struggle Harriet returned 
to Auburn, where she has lived ever since. Her devotion to 
her people has never ceased. Although she is very poor and 
is subject to the infirmities of old age, infirmities increased in 
her case by the effects of iU treatment received in slavery, 
she has managed to transform her house into a hospital, 
where she provides and cares for some of the helpless and 
deserving of her own race.^ 

1 Mrs. Bradford, Sarriet the Moses of Her People, Appendix, p. 142. 

^Lillie B. C. "Wyman, in the New England Magazine, March, 1876, 
pp. 117, 118. Conversation with Harriet Tubman, Cambridge, Mass., April 
8, 1897. 



The passengers of the Underground Railroad had but one 
real refuge, one region alone within whose bounds they could 
know they were safe from reenslavement ; that region was 
Canada. The position of Canada on the slavery question was 
peculiar, for the imperial act abolishing slavery throughout 
the colonies of England was not passed until 1833 ; and, 
legally, if not actually, slavery existed in Canada until that 
year. The importation of slaves into this northern country 
had been tolerated by the French, and later, under an act 
passed in 1790, had been encouraged by the English. It is a 
singular fact that while this measure was in force slaves 
escaped from their Canadian masters to the United States, 
where they found freedom.^ Before the separation of the 
Upper and Lower Provinces in 1791, slavery had spread 
westward into Upper Canada, and a few hundred negroes and 
some Pawnee Indians were to be found in bondage through 
the small scattered settlements of the Niagara, Home and 
Western districts. 

The Province of Upper Canada took the initiative in the 
restriction of slavery. In the year 1793, in which Congress 
provided for the rendition by the Northern states of fugitives 
from labor, the first parliament of Upper Canada enacted a 

1 "A case of this kind," says Dr. S. G. Howe, "was related to us by 
Mrs. Amy Martin. Slie says : " My father's name was James Ford. . . . 
He . . . would he over one hundred years old, if he were now living. . . . 
He was held here (in Canada) by the Indians as a slave, and sold, I think 
he said, to a British officer, who was a very cruel master, and he escaped 
from him, and came to Ohio, ... to Cleveland, I believe, first, and made 
his way from there to Erie (Pa.), where he settled. . . . When we were in 
Erie, we moved a little way out of the village, and our house was ... a 
station of the U. G. R. R." The Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, 
by S. 6. Howe, 1864, pp. 8, 9. 




(From a recent photograph.) 


law against the importation of slaves, and incorporated in it 
a clause to the effect that children of slaves then held were 
to become free at the age of twenty-five years.^ Nevertheless, 
judicial rather than legislative action terminated slavery in 
Lower Canada, for a series of three fugitive slave cases oc- 
curred between the first day of February, 1798, and the last 
day of February, 1800. The third of these suits, known as 
the Robin case, was tried before the full Court of King's 
Bench, and the court ordered the discharge of the fugitive 
from his confinement. Perhaps the correctness of the de- 
cisions rendered in these cases may be questioned ; but it is 
noteworthy that the provincial legislature would not cross 
them, and it may therefore be asserted that slavery really 
ceased in Lower Canada after the decision of the Robin case, 
February 18, 1800.^ 

The seaboard provinces were but little infected by slavery. 
Nova Scotia, to which probably more than to any other of these, 
refugees from Southern bondage fled, had by reason of natural 
causes, lost nearly, if not quite all traces of slavery by the 
beginning of our century. The experience of the eighteenth 
century had been sufficient to reform public opinion in 
Canada on the question of slavery, and to show that the 
climate of the provinces was a permanent barrier to the 
profitable employment of slave labor. 

During the period in which Canada was thus freeing her- 
seK from the last vestiges of the evil, slaves who had escaped 
from Southern masters were beginning to appeal for protection 
to anti-slavery people in the Northern states.^ The arrests of 
refugees from bondage, and the cases of kidnapping of free 
negroes, which were not infrequent in the North, strength- 
ened the appeals of the hunted suppliants. Under these 
circumstances, it was natural that there should have arisen 
early in the present century the beginnings of a movement 
on the northern border of the United States for the purpose 
of helping fugitives to Canadian soil.* 

1 Act of 30th Geo. m. 

2 See the article entitled "Slavery in Canada," by J. C. Hamilton, LL.B., 
in the Magazine of American History, Vol. XXV, pp. 233-236. 

' M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 20. 

* Ibid., p. 60 ; K. C. Smedley, Underground Eailroad, p. 26. 


Upon the questions how and when this system arose, we 
have both unofficial and official testimony. Dr. Samuel G. 
Howe learned upon careful investigation, in 1863, that the 
early abolition of slavery in Canada did not affect slavery in 
the United States for several years. " Now and then a slave 
was intelligent and bold enough," he states, "to cross the 
vast forest between the Ohio and the Lakes, and find a refuge 
beyond them. Such cases were at first very rare, and know- 
ledge of them was confined to few; but they increased early 
in this century ; and the rumor gradually spread among the 
slaves of the Southern states, that there was, far away under 
the north star, a land where the flag of the Union did not 
float ; where the law declared all men free and equal ; where 
the people respected the law, and the government, if need be, 
enforced it. . . . Some, not content with personal freedom and 
happiness, went secretly back to their old homes, and brought 
away their wives and children at much peril and cost. The 
rumor widened ; the fugitives so increased, that a secret 
pathway, since called the Underground Railroad, was soon 
formed, which ran by the huts of the blacks in the slave 
states, and the houses of good Samaritans in the free states. 
. . . Hundreds trod this path every year, but they did not 
attract much public notice." ^ Before the year 1817 it is 
said that a single little group of abolitionists in southern 
Ohio had forwarded to Canada by this secret path more than 
a thousand fugitive slaves.^ The truth of this account is 
confirmed by the diplomatic negotiations of 1826 relating to 
this subject. Mr. Clay, then Secretary of State, declared the 
escape of slaves to British territory to be a " growing evil " ; 
and in 1828 he again described it as still "growing," and 
added that it was well calculated to disturb the peaceful 
relations existing between the United States and the adjacent 
British provinces. England, however, steadfastly refused to 
accept Mr. Clay's proposed stipulation for extradition, on the 
ground that the British government could not, " with respect 
to the British possessions where slavery is not admitted, de- 

1 S. G. Howe, The Eefugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 11, 12. 

2 William Birney, James G. Birney and His Times, p. 435. 


part from the principle recognized by the British courts that 
every man is free who reaches British ground." ^ 

During the decade between 1828 and 1838 many persons 
throughout the Northern states, as far west as Iowa, had 
cooperated in forming new lines of Underground Railroad 
with termini at various points along the Canadian frontier. 
A resolution submitted to Congress in December, 1838, was 
aimed at these persons, by calling for a bill providing for the 
punishment, in the courts of the United States, of all persons 
guilty of aiding fugitive slaves to escape, or of enticing them 
from their owners.^ Though this resolution came to nought, 
the need of it may have been demonstrated to the minds of 
Southern men by the fact that several companies of runaway 
slaves were organized, and took part in the Patriot War of 
this year in defence of Canadian territory against the attack 
of two or three hundi'ed armed men from the State of New 
York. 3 

Each succeeding year witnessed the influx into Canada of 
a larger number of colored emigrants from the South. At 
length, in 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law called forth such 
opposition in the North that the Underground Railroad 
became more efficient than ever. The secretary of the 
Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society wrote in 1851 that, 
"notwithstanding the stringent provisions of the Fugitive 
Bill, and the confidence which was felt in it as a certain cure 
for escape, we are happy to know that the evasion of slaves 
was never greater than at this moment. All abolitionists, at 
any of the prominent points of the country, know that appli- 
cations for assistance were never more frequent." * This 
statement is substantiated by the testimony of many persons 
who did underground service in the North. 

1 Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Clay, Sept. 26, 1827, Mies' Eegister, p. 290. 

2 Congressional Globe, Twenty-fifth Congress, Third Session, p. 34. 

' The Patriot War defeated a foolhardy attempt to induce the Province of 
Upper Canada to proclaim its independence. The refugees were by no 
means willing to see a movement begun, the success of which might "break 
the only arm interposed for their security." J. W. Loguen as a Slave and 
as a Freeman, p. 344. 

* Nineteenth Annual Report of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 
January, 1851, p. 67. 


From the other end of the line, the Canadian terminus, 
we have abundant evidence of the lively traffic both before 
and after the new act. Besides the later investigations of 
Dr. Howe we have the statement of a contemporary, still 
living. Anthony Bingey, of Windsor, Ontario, aided the Rev. 
Hiram Wilson and the Rev. Isaac J. Rice, two graduates of 
Hamilton College, in the conduct of a mission for refugees. 
Mr. Bingey first settled at Amherstburg, at the mouth of the 
Detroit River, where he kept a receiving station for fugitives, 
was in an excellent place for observation, and was allied 
with trained men, who gave themselves, in the missionary 
spirit, to the cause of the fugitive slave in Canada. When 
Mr. Bingey first went to Amherstburg, in 1845, it was a rare 
occurrence to see as many as fifteen fugitives arrive in a 
single company. In the course of time runaways began to 
disembark from the ferries and lake boats in larger numbers, 
a day's tale often running as high as thirty. Through the 
period of the Mexican War, and down to the beginning of 
Fillmore's administration, many of the fugitives from the 
South had settled in the States, but after 1850 many, fearing 
recapture, journeyed in haste to Canada, greatly increasing 
the number daily arriving there. -^ That there was no ten- 
dency towards a decline in the movement is suggested by 
two items appearing in the Independent during the year 
1855. According to the first of these (quoted from the 
Intelligencer of St. Louis, Missouri) : " The evil (of running 
off slaves) has got to be an immense one, and is daily becom- 
ing more aggravated. It threatens to subvert the institution 
of slavery in this state entirely, and unless effectually checked 
it will certainly do so. There is no doubt that ten slaves are 
now stolen from Missouri to every one that was ' spirited ' off 
before the Douglas bill." ^ It is significant that the ardent 
abolitionists of Iowa and northwestern Illinois were vig- 

1 Interview with Elder Anthony Bingey, Windsor, Ontario, July 31, 1895. 
On this point Dr. S. G. Howe says : " Of course it [the Fugitive Slave Law] 
gave gi-eat increase to the emigration, and free born blacks fled with the 
slaves from a land in which their birthright of freedom was no longer 
secure." Mefugees from Slavery in Canada West, p. 16. 

2 Independent, Jan. 18, 1856. 


orously engaged in Underground Railroad work at this time. 
The other item declared that the number of fugitives trans- 
ported by the " Ohio Underground Line " was twenty-five 
per cent greater than in any previous year ; " indeed, many 
masters have brought their hands from the Kanawha (West 
Virginia), not being willing to risk them there." ^ 

That portion of Canada most easily reached by fugitives 
was the lake-bound region lying between New York on the 
east and Michigan on- the west, and presenting a long and 
inviting coast-line to northern Ohio, northwestern Pennsyl- 
vania and western New York. Lower Canada was often 
reached through the New England states and by way of the 
coast-line routes. The fugitives slaves entering Canada 
were principally from the border slave states, Missouri, 
Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Some, how- 
ever, favored by rare good fortune and possessed of more 
than ordinary sagacity or aided by some venturesome friend, 
had made their way from the far South, from the Carolinas, 
Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, even from Louisiana. 

The fugitives who reached Canada do not seem to have 
been notable ; on the whole they were a representative body 
of the slave-class. An observer on a Southern plantation 
could hardly have selected out would-be fugitives, as being 
superior to their fellows. If he had questioned them all 
about their desire for liberty he would have found habitual 
runaways agreeing with their fellows that they were content 
with their present lot. The average slave was shrewd enough 
under ordinary circumstances to tell what he thought least 
likely to arouse suspicion. That such discretion did not 
signify lack of desire for freedom is shown not only by the 
numerous escapes, but by the narratives of fugitives. Said 
Leonard Harrod: "Many a time my master has told me 
things to try me ; among others he said he thought of mov- 
ing up to Cincinnati, and asked me if I did not want to go. 
I would tell him, ' No ! I don't want to go to none of your 
free countries ! ' Then he'd laugh, but I did want to come 
— surely I did. A colored man tells the truth here, — there 

1 Independent, April 5, 1855 ; see also "Von Hoist's Constitutional and 
Political History of the United States, Vol. V, p. 63, note. 


he is afraid to." ^ " I have known slaves to be hungry," said 
David West, " but when their master asked them if they had 
enough, they would through fear say, 'Yes.' So if asked 
if they wish to be free, they will say ' No.' I knew a case 
where there was a division of between fifty and sixty slaves 
among heirs, one of whom intended to set free her part. So 
wishing to consult them she asked of such and such ones 
if they would like to be free, and they all said 'No,' for 
if they had said yes, and had then fallen to the other heirs, 
they would be sold, — and so they said, ' No,' against their 
own consciences." 2 "From the time I was a little boy it 
always ground my feelings to know that I had to work for 
another man," said Edward Walker, of Windsor, Ontario.^ 
When asked to help hunt two slave-women, Henry Steven- 
son, a slave in Odrain County, Missouri, at first declined, 
knowing that his efforts to find them would bring upon 
him the wrath of the other slaves. "I wouldn't go," he 
related; "the colored folks would 'a' killed me." In his 
refusal he was supported by a white man, who had the 
wisdom to observe that "'Twas a bad policy to send a 
nigger to hunt a nigger." Nevertheless, Stevenson's trust- 
worthiness had been so often tested that he was taken 
along to help prosecute the search, and even accompanied 
the party of pursuers to Chicago, where he disappeared by 
the aid of abolitionists and was afterward heard of in Wind- 
sor, Ontario.* Elder Anthony Bingey, of the same place, 
said, "I never saw the day since I knew anything that I 
didn't want to be free. Both Bucknel and Taylor [his 
successive masters] liked to see their slaves happy and well 
treated, but I always wanted to be free." ^ 

The manifestations of delight by fugitives when landed 
on the Canada shore is another part of the evidence of the 
sincerity of their aspirations for freedom. Captain Chapman, 

^ Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, 1856, p. 340. 
= Ibid., p. 91. 

' Detroit Sunday News Tribune, quoted by the Louisville Journal, Aug. 
12, 1894. 

* Conversation with Henry Stevenson, Windsor, Ont., July, 1895. 

* Conversation with Elder Anthony Bingey, Windsor, Ont., July 31,1895. 


the commander of a vessel on Lake Erie in 1860, was re- 
quested by two 9,cquaintances at Cleveland to put ashore 
on the Canada side two persons, who were, of course, fugi- 
tives, and he gives the following account of the landing: 
" While they were on my vessel I felt little interest in them, 
and had no idea that the love of liberty as a part of man's 
nature was in the least possible degree felt or understood by 
them. Before entering Buffalo harbor, I ran in near the 
Canada shore, manned a boat, and landed them on the beach. 
. . . They said, ' Is this Canada ? ' I said, ' Yes, there are 
no slaves in this country ' ; then I witnessed a scene I shall 
never forget. They seemed to be transformed ; a new light 
shone in their eyes, their tongues were loosed, they laughed 
and cried, prayed and sang praises, fell upon the ground and 
kissed it, hugged and kissed each other, crying, 'Bress de 
Lord ! Oh ! I'se free before I die ! '" i 

The state of ignorance in which the slave population of 
the South was largely kept must be regarded as the admis- 
sion by the master class that their slaves were likely to seize 
the boon of freedom, unless denied the encouragement 
towards self-emancipation that knowledge would surely 
afford. The fables about Canada brought to the North by 
runaways well illustrate both the ignorance of the slave and 
the apprehensions of his owner. William Johnson, who fled 
from Hopkins County, Virginia, had been told that the 
Detroit River was over three thousand miles wide, and a 
ship starting out in the night would find herself in the 
morning "right whar she started from." In the light of 
his later experience Johnson says, " We knowed jess what 
dey tole us and no more." ^ Deacon Allen Sidney, an en- 
gineer on his master's boat, which touched at Cincinnati, had 
a poor opinion of Canada because he had heard that " nothin' 
but black-eyed peas could be raised there." ^ John Evans, 
who travelled through the Northern country, and even in 
Canada, with his Kentucky master, was insured against the 

1 E. M. Pettit, Sketches in the Sistory of the Underground Bailroad, 
pp. 66, 67. See also Chapter I, p. 14, and Chapter VI, p. 178. 

2 Conversation with William Johnson, at Windsor, Ont., July 31, 1895. 
* Conversation with Allen Sidney, Windsor, Ont. 


temptation to seize his liberty by the warning to let no 
" British nigger" get near him lest he should be slain "jess 
like on de battle-field." ^ John Reed heard the white people 
in Memphis, Tennessee, talk much of Canada, but he adds 
" they'd put some extract onto it to keep us from comin'." ^ 

Although many disparaging things said about Canada at 
the South were without the shadow of verity, there were 
still hardships enough to be met by those who settled there. 
The provinces constituted for them a strange country. Its 
climate, raw, open and variable, and at certain periods of the 
year severe, increased the sufferings of a people already des- 
titute. The condition in which many of them arrived be- 
yond the borders, especially those who migrated before the 
forties, is vividly told by J. W. Loguen in his account of his 
first arrival at Hamiltqn, Canada West, in 1835. Writing to 
his friend, Frederick Douglass, under date of May 8, 1856, 
he says : " Twenty -one years ago — I stood on this spot, 
penniless, ragged, lonely, homeless, helpless, hungry and 
forlorn. . . . Hamilton was a cold wilderness for the fugi- 
tive when I came there." ^ The experience of Loguen cor- 
roborates what Josiah Henson said of the general condition 
of the fugitives as he saw them in 1830 : " At that time they 
were scattered in all directions and for the most part miser- 
ably poor, subsisting not unfrequently on the roots and 
herbs of the fields. ... In 1830 there were no schools 
among them and no churches, only occasionally preaching." * 

The whole previous experience of these pioneers was a 
block to their making a vigorous initiative in their own be- 
half. Extreme poverty, ignorance and subjection were their 
inheritance. Their new start in life was made with a 
wretched prospect, and it would be difficult to imagine a 
free lot more discouraging and hopeless. Yet it was bright- 
ened much by the compassionate interest of the Canadian 
people, who were so tolerant as to admit them to a share in 

* Conversation with John Evans, Windsor, Ont., Aug. 2, 1895. 
" Conversation with John Reed, Windsor, Ont. 

* The Bev. J. W. Loguen as a Slave and as a Freeman, 1859, told by 
himself ; chap, xxiv, pp. 338, 340. 

* Father Benson's Story of His Own Life, 1858, p. 209. 


the equal rights that could at that time be found in Amer- 
ica only in the territory of a monarchical government. By 
the year 1838 the fugitive host of Canada West began to 
profit by organized efforts in its behalf. A mission of Upper 
Canada was established. It was described as including " the 
colored people who have emigrated from the United States 
and settled in various parts of Upper Canada to enjoy the 
inalienable rights of freedom." ^ During the winter of 1838- 
1839, this enterprise conducted four schools, while the Rev. 
Hiram Wilson, who seems to have been acting under other 
auspices, was supervising during the same year a number of 
other schools in the province.^ 

From this time on much was done in Canada to help the 
ransomed slave meet his new conditions. It was not long 
before the benevolent interest of friends from the Northern 
states followed the refugees to their very settlements as it 
had succored them on their way through the free states. In 
1844 Levi Coffin and William Beard made a tour of inspec- 
tion in Canada West. This was the first of several trips 
made by these two Quakers " to look after the welfare of the 
fugitives " ^ in that region. The Rev. Samuel J. May made 
two such trips, " the first time to Toronto and its neighbor- 
hood, the second time to that part of Canada which lies be- 
tween Lake Erie and Lake Huron." * John Brown did not 
fail to keep himself informed by personal visits how the 
fugitives were faring there.® Men less prominent but not 
less interested among underground magnates were di-awn to 
see how their former prot^g^s were prospering ; such were 
Abram AUen, a Hicksite Friend of Clinton County, Ohio, 
and Reuben Goens, a South Carolinian by birth, who be- 
came an enthusiastic coworker with the Quakers at Fountain 
City, Indiana, in aiding slaves to the Dominion. 

These efforts were helpful to multitudes of negroes. Some 
insight into the work that was being accomplished is afforded 

1 Mission of Upper Canada, Vol. I, No. 17, Wed., July 31, 1839. 
3 Ibid. 

* Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, p. 253. 

♦ May, Becollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 303. 
5 Hinton, John Brown and His Men, p. 175. 


by Levi Coffin, who gives a valuable account of his Canadian 
trip, September to November, 1844. Among the first places 
he visited was Amherstburg, more commonly known at that 
time by the name of Fort Maiden : " While at this place, we 
made our headquarters at Isaac J. Rice's missionary buildings, 
where he had a large school for colored children. He had 
labored here among the colored people, mostly fugitives, for 
six years. He was a devoted, self-denying worker, had 
received very little pecuniary help, and had suffered many 
privations. He was well situated in Ohio, as pastor of a 
Presbyterian church, and had fine prospects before him, but 
believed that the Lord called him to this field of missionary 
labor among the fugitive slaves who came here by hundreds 
and by thousands, poor, destitute, ignorant, suffering from all 
the evil influences of slavery. We entered into deep sym- 
pathy with him in his labors, realizing the great need there 
was here for just such an institution as he had established. 
He had sheltered at this missionary home many hundreds of 
fugitives till other homes for them could be found. This was 
the great landing-point, the principal terminus of the Under- 
ground Railroad of the West." ^ Later Mr. Coffin and his 
companion "visited the institution under the care of Hiram 
Wilson, called the British and American Manual Labor In- 
stitute for colored children." ^ " The school was then," he 
reports, "in a prosperous condition." Mr. Coffin continues: 
" From this place we proceeded up the river Thames to Lon- 
don, visiting the different settlements of colored people on 
our way, and then went to the Wilberforce Colony. . . . 
I often met fugitives who had been at my house ten or fifteen 
years before, so long ago that I had forgotten them, and 
could recall no recollection of them until they mentioned 
some circumstance that brought them to mind. Some of them 
were well situated, owned good farms, and were perhaps worth 
more than their former masters. . . . We found many of 
the fugitives more comfortably situated than we expected, but 
there was much destitution and suffering among those who 
had recently come in. Many fugitives arrived weary and 
footsore, with their clothing in rags, having been torn by 
1 Coffin, Seminiscences, pp. 249, 250. 2 H)i^_^ p. 251. 


briers and bitten by dogs on their way, and when the precious 
boon of freedom was obtained, they found themselves pos- 
sessed of little else, in a country unknown to them and a 
climate much colder than that to which they were accustomed. 
We noted the cases and localities of destitution, and after 
our return home took measures to collect and forward several 
large boxes of clothing and bedding to be distributed by re- 
liable agents to the most needy." ^ 

The government of Canada was not in advance of the 
public sentiment of the provinces when it gave the incoming 
blacks considerate treatment. It was early a puzzle in Mr. 
Clay's mind why Ontario and the mother country should 
yield unhindered entrance to such a class of colonists; his 
opinion of the character of the absconding slaves and of the 
unadvisability of their being received by Canada was ex- 
pressed in a despatch of 1826 to the United States minister 
at London : " They are generally the most worthless of their 
class, and far, therefore, from being an acquisition which the 
British government can be anxious to make. The sooner, we 
should think, they are gotten rid of the better for Canada." ^ 
But the Canadians did not at any time adopt this view. Dr. 
Howe testified in 1863 that "the refugees have always re- 
ceived . . . from the better class of people, good-will and 
justice, and from a few, active friendship and important 
assistance." ^ The attitude of the Canadian government 
toward this class of immigrants was always one of welcome 
and protection. Not only was there no obstruction put in 
the way of their settling in the Dominion, but rather there 
was the clear purpose to see them shielded from removal and 
to foster among them the accumulation of property. 

In the matter of the acquirement of land no discrimination 
was made by the Canadian authorities against the fugitive 
settlers. On the contrary these unpromising purchasers were 
encouraged to take up government land and become tillers of 
the soil. In 1844 Levi CofBn found that " Land had been 
easily obtained and many had availed themselves of this 

1 Coffin, Eeminiscences, pp. 252, 283. 

2 mies' Begister, Vol. XSV, p. 289. 

' Howe, Befugees in Canada West, p. 68. 


advantage to secure comfortable homesteads. Government 
land had been divided up into fifty-acre lots, which they 
could buy for two dollars an acre, and have ten years in which 
to pay for it, and if it was not paid for at the end of that 
time they did not lose all the labor they had bestowed on it, 
but received a clear title to the land as soon as they paid for 
it." 1 

In 1848 or 1849 a company was formed in Upper Canada, 
under the name of the Elgin Association, for the purpose of 
settling colored families upon crown or clergy reserve lands 
to be purchased in the township of Raleigh. It was intended 
thus to supply the families settled with stimulus to moral 
improvement.^ To whom is to be attributed the origin of 
this enterprise is not altogether clear ; one writer ascribes it 
to the influence of Lord Elgin, Governor-General of Canada 
from 1849 to 1854, and asserts that a tract of land of 
eighteen thousand acres was allotted for a refugee settlement 
in 1848; 3 another says it was first projected by the Rev. 
William King, a Louisiana slaveholder, in 1849.* Mr. King's 
own statement is that a company of fifteen slaves he had him- 
self emancipated became the nucleus of the settlement in 
1849; and that under an act of incorporation procured by 
himself in 1850 an association was formed to purchase nine 
thousand acres of land and hold it for fugitive settlers.* 

The Canadian authorities facilitated the efforts made by 
the friends of the fugitives to provide this class such supplies 
as could be gathered in various quarters, and they entered 
into an arrangement with the mission-agent, the Rev. Hiram 
Wilson, to admit all supplies intended for the refugees free 
of customs-duty. Mr. E. Child, a mission-teacher, educated 
at Oneida Institute, New York, received many boxes of such 
goods at Toronto ; ^ and at a hamlet called " the Corners," a 

1 Levi CofBn, Reminiscences, pp. 252, 253. 

2 Benjamin Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 292. 

° George Bryce, Short History of the Canadian People, p. 403. 

* Benjamin Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 291. 

^ S. G. Howe, Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 107, 108.. 

" History of Knox County, Illinois (published by Charles C. Chapman 
and Co.), p. 203. Here it is stated : " Mr. Wilson arranged with the authori- 
ties to have all supplies for the fugitive slaves admitted free of customs duty. 


few miles from Detroit, a Mr. Miller kept a depot for "fugi- 
tive goods." Supplies were also shipped to Detroit direct for 
transmission across tlie frontier. ^ 

The circumstances attending the settlement of the refugees 
from slavery in Canada were favorable to their kindly recep- 
tion by the native peoples. It was generally known that they 
had suffered many hardships on their journey northward, and 
that they usually came with nought but the unquenchable 
yearning for a liberty denied them by the United States. 
The movement to Canada had begun when the inter-lake 
portion of Ontario was largely an unsettled region; and 
indeed, during the period of the refugees' immigration, much 
of the interior was in the process of clearing. Moreover, the 
movement was one of small beginnings and gradual develop- 
ment. It brought into the country what it then needed — 
agricultural labor to open up government land and to help 
the native farmers. 

In the elbow of land lying between Lake Ontario and Lake 
Erie, the fugitives were early received by the Indians under 
Chief Brant, having possessions along the Grand River and 
near Burlington Bay. Finding hospitality on these estates, 
the negroes not infrequently adopted the customs and mode 
of life of their benefactors, and remained among them.^ 

In the territory extending westward along the lake front 
white settlers were working their clearings, which were 
beginning to take on the aspect of cultivated farms. But 
farm hands were not plentiful, and the fugitive slaves were 
penniless, and eager to receive wages on their own account. 

Many were the large ■well-filled boxes of what was most needed by the wan- 
derer taken from the wharf at Toronto during that winter [1841] by E. Child, 
mission-teacher. He was then a student at Oneida Institute, N.Y., but for 
many years has resided in Oneida, this county. He went into Canada for 
the purpose of teaching the fugitives." 

' Conversation with Jacob Cummings, a fugitive from Tennessee, now 
living in Columbus, O. Mr. Cummings was at one time a collecting agent 
for a settlement at Puce, Ont. He told the author, " WTiile agent, I was 
sent to Sandusky. I would collect goods for the settlement, and ship it to 
Detroit, marked 'Fugitive Goods.' Brother Miller, at the Comers, a little 
place about fifteen miles from Detroit, would take care of these, and Canada 
wouldn't charge any duty on 'fugitive goods.' " 

2 J. C. Hamilton, Magazine of American History, Vol. XXV, p. 238. 


Mr. Benjamin Drew, who made a tour of investigation among 
these people in 1855, and wrote down the narratives of more 
than a hundred colored refugees, gives testimony to show 
that in some quarters at least, as in the vicinity of Colchester, 
Dresden and Dawn, the number of laborers was not equal to 
the demand, and that the negroes readily found employment.^ 
It was not to be expected that the field-hands and house- 
servants of the South could work to the best advantage in 
their new surroundings ; a gentleman of Windsor told Mr. 
Drew that immigrants whose experience in agricultural pur- 
suits had been gained in Pennsylvania and other free states 
were more capable and reliable than those coming directly 
to Canada from Southern bondage.^ But such was the dis- 
position of the white people in different parts of Canada, 
and such the demand for laborers in this developing section, 
that the Canada Anti-Slavery Society could say of the 
refugees, in its Second Report (1853) : " The true principle 
is now to assume that every man, unless disabled by sickness, 
can support himself and his family after he has obtained 
steady employment. All that able-bodied men and women 
require is a fair chance, friendly advice and a little encourage- 
ment, perhaps a little assistance at first. Those who are really 
willing to work can procure employment in a short time after 
their arrival." ^ 

The fact that there were large tracts of good land in the 
portion of Canada accessible to the fugitive was a fortunate 
circumstance, for the desire to possess and cultivate their 
own land was wide-spread among the escaped slaves. This 
eagerness drew many of them into the Canadian wilderness, 
there to cut out little farms for themselves, and live the life 
of pioneers. The extensive tract known as the Queen's 
Bush, lying southwest of Toronto and stretching away to 
Lake Huron, was early penetrated by refugees. William 
Jackson, one of the first colored settlers in this region, says 
that he entered it in 1846, when scarcely any one was to be 
found there, that other fugitive slaves soon followed in con- 

1 Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, pp. 311, 368. 

^ Ihid., p. 322. 

' Quoted by Drew, p. 326. 






who made a valuable report on the life ol 
fugitive settlers in Canada in behalf 
of the United States Freedman's In- 
qviiry Commission in 1863. 


who studied the condition of the colored 
refugees in Canada in 1855, and wrote 
an interesting book on the subject. 


siderable numbers and cleared the land, and that in less than 
two years as many as fifty families had located there. The 
land proved to be good, was well timbered with hard wood, 
and farms of from fifty to a hundred acres in extent were soon 
put in cultivation.! In some other parts of Canada the same 
tendency to spread into the outlying districts and secure 
small holdings appeared among the colored people. Mr. Peter 
Wright, the reeve of the town of Colchester, noted this fact, 
and attributed the clearance of much land for cultivation to 
fugitive slaves.^ That such land did not always remain in 
the possession of this class of pioneers was due to their igno- 
rance of the forms of conveyancing, and doubtless sometimes 
to the sharp practices of unscrupulous whites.^ 

Encouragement was not lacking to induce refugees to take 
up land ; several fugitive aid societies were organized for this 
purpose, and procured tracts of land and founded colonies 
upon them. The most important of the colonies thus formed 
were the Dawn Settlement at Dresden, the Elgin Settlement 
at Buxton and the Refugees' Home near Windsor.* These 
three communities deserve special consideration, inasmuch as 
they illustrate an interesting movement in which benevolent 
persons in Canada, England and the United States cooperated 
to improve the condition of the refugees. 

The Dawn Settlement, the first of the three established, 
may be said to have had its beginning in the organization of a 
school called the British and A merican Institute.^ The purpose 
to found such a school seems to have been cherished by the 
missionary, the Rev. Hiram Wilson, and his coworker, Josiah 
Henson, as early as 1838 ; but the plan was not undertaken 
until 1842.^ In that year a convention of colored persons was 

1 Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 190. 

2 IbU., p. 367. 

' Ibid., pp. 367, 369 ; Austin Steward, Twenty-two Years a Slave, and 
Forty Years a Freeman, p. 272. 

* Howe, Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 68, 69. 

* Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 808. 

« The Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Himself, 
1852, p. 115. See also Father Henson's Story of His Own Life, 1858, p. 171. 
Mr. Drew ascribes the honor of the original conception of this Institute to 
the Rev. Hiram Wilson. (See A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 311.) Mr. 
Henson, after asserting that he and Mr. Wilson called the convention of 1838, 


called to decide upon the expenditure of some fifteen hundred 
dollars collected in England by a Quaker named James C. 
Fuller; and they decided, under suggestion, to start "a 
manual-labor school, where children could be taught those 
elements of knowledge which are usually the occupations of 
a grammar-school; and where the boys could be taught, in 
addition, the practice of some mechanic art, and the girls 
could be instructed in those domestic arts which are the 
proper occupation and ornament of her sex." ^ It was decided 
to locate the school at Dawn, and accordingly three hundred 
acres of land were purchased there, upon which were erected 
log buildings and schoolhouses, and soon the work of in- 
struction was begun. It was " an object from the beginning, of 
those who . . . managed the affairs of the Institute, to make 
it self-supporting, by the employment of the students, for cer- 
tain portions of their time, on the land." ^ The advantages 
of schooling on this basis attracted many refugee settlers to 
Dresden and Dawn. The Institute also gave shelter to fugi- 
tive slaves " until they could be placed out upon the wild 
lands in the neighborhoods to earn their own subsistence." 

The Rev. Mr. Wilson served the Institute during the first 
seven years of its existence, teaching its school, and minister- 
ing to such refugees as came. The number of "boarding- 
scholars " with which he began was fourteen, and at that time 
"there were no more than fifty colored persons in all the 
vicinity of the tract purchased." ^ In 1852 there were about 
sixty pupils attending the school, and the settlers on the land 
of the Institute had increased to five hundred ; * while other 
colonies in the same region had, collectively, a population of 

continues, "I urged the appropriation of the money to the establishment of a 
manual-labor school. . . ." {Father Henson's Story of His Own Life,'p.\QQ.) 
It appears that both Wilson and Henson were placed on the committee on 
site. As they were friends and coworkers, it is safe to accord them equal 
shares in the undertaking. 

1 Father Hensori's Story of His Own Life, p. 169. 

2 The Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Himself, 
p. 115. 

8 Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 311. 

* First Annual Eeport of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, p. 17. See 
also Drew's North-Side View, p. 311. 


between three thousand and four thousand colored people.^ 
From what has been said it is easy to see that the influence 
of Dawn Institute was considerable ; its managers were not 
content that it should instruct the children of colored persons 
only; they extended the advantages of the school to the 
children of whites and Indians as well. Adult students were 
also admitted, and varied in number from fifty-six to one 
hundred and sixteen. ^ The good results of the policy thus 
pursued are apparent in the character and habits of the com- 
munities that developed under the influence of the Institute. 

Concerning these communities Mr. Drew observed : " The 
colored people in the neighborhood of Dresden and Dawn 
are generally prosperous farmers — of good morals. . . . But 
here, as among all people, are a few persons of doubtful 
character, who have not been trained ' to look out for a rainy 
day,' — and when these get a little beforehand they are apt to 
rest on their oars. . . . Some of the settlers are mechanics, 
— shoemakers, blacksmiths and so forth. About one-third 
of the adult settlers are in. possession of land which is, either 
in whole or in part, paid for."^ In 1855, the year in which 
these observations were made, the Institute had already 
passed the zenith of its usefulness, and its buildings were 
fast falling into a state of melancholy dilapidation. The 
cause of this decline is probably to be found in the bad feel- 
ing, neglect and failure arising out of a divided manage- 
ment. * 

The origin of the Elgin Settlement is discussed above; 
whether or not it was projected by Lord Elgin in 1848, it is 
certain that in 1849 the Rev. William King, a Presbyterian 
clergyman from Louisiana, had manumitted and settled slaves 
on this tract. This company, fifteen in number, formed the 
nucleus of a community named Buxton, in honor of Thomas 
Fowell Buxton, the philanthropist, and the rapid growth of 
the settlement thus begun seems to have led to the incorpo- 
ration of the Elgin Association in August, 1850. It is prob- 

1 Life ofjosiah Benson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Himself, p. 118. 

" Ibid., p. 117. 

' A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 309. 

* Father Benson's Story of His Own Life, pp. 182-186. 


able that Mr. King early became the chief agent in advancing 
the interests of the settlers, his support being derived mainly 
from the Mission Committee of the Presbyterian Church of 
Canada. The plan that was carried out under his manage- 
ment provided for the parcelling of the land into farms of fifty 
acres each, to be had by the colonists at the government price, 
two dollars and fifty cents per acre, payable in twelve annual 
instalments. No houses inferior to the model of a small log 
house prescribed by the improvement committee were to be 
erected, ^ although settlers were permitted to build as much 
better as they chose. A court of arbitration was established 
for the adjudication of disputes, and a day-school and Sun- 
day-school gave much needed instruction. 

The growth of the Elgin Settlement is set forth in a series 
of reports, which afford many interesting facts about the 
enterprise. The number of families that entered the settle- 
ment during the first two years and eight months is given as 
seventy-five;^ a year later this number was increased to 
one hundred and thirty families, comprising five hundred 
and twenty persons ; ^ the year following there were a hun- 
dred and fifty families in Buxton;* and eight years later, 
in 1862, when Dr. Howe visited Canada, he was informed 
by Mr. King that the population of the settlement was 
"about one thousand, — men, women and children," and 
that two thousand acres had been deeded in fee simple to 
purchasers, one-third of which had been paid for, principal 
and interest. The impressions of Dr. Howe are well worth 
quoting: " Buxton is certainly a very interesting place. Six- 
teen years ago it was a wilderness. Now, good highways 
are laid out in all directions through the forest ; and by their 
side, standing back thirty-three feet from the road, are about 
two hundred cottages, all built on the same pattern, all look- 
ing neat and comfortable. Around each one is a cleared 

1 The dimensions of the model house were twenty-four by eighteen feet, 
and twelve feet high. 

^ Third Annual Beport, September, 1852, quoted by Drew in North-Side 
View of Slavery, p. 293. 

' Fourth Annual Beport, September, 1853. See Drew's work, p. 294. 

* Fifth Annual Beport, September, 1854 ; Drew's work, p. 295. 


place, of several acres, whicli is well cultivated. The fences 
are in good order, the barns seem vrell-iilled ; and cattle and 
horses, and pigs and poultry, abound. There are signs of 
industry and thrift and comfort everywhere ; signs of intem- 
perance, of idleness, of want, nowhere. There is no tavern, 
and no groggery ; but there is a chapel and a schoolhouse. 

" Most interesting of all are the inhabitants. Twenty years 
ago most of them were slaves, who owned nothing, not even 
their children. Now they own themselves ; they own their 
houses and farms ; and they have their wives and children 
about them. They are enfranchised citizens of a government 
which protects their rights. . . . The present condition of 
aU these colonists, as compared with their former one is very 
remarkable." ^ Mr. King told Dr. Howe that only three of 
the whole number that settled in the colony had their first 
instalment on their farms paid for them by friends ; ^ and he 
summed up his experience as follows : " This settlement is a 
perfect success. . . . Here are men who were bred in sla- 
very, who came here and purchased land at the government 
prices, cleared it, bought their own implements, built their 
own houses after a model, and have supported themselves in 
all material circumstances, and now support their schools, 
in part. ... I consider that this settlement has done as 
well as a white settlement would have done under the same 
circumstances." ^ 

The colony known as Refugees' Home was the outgrowth 
of a suggestion of Henry Bibb, who was himself a fugitive 
slave. Soon after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 
1850, he proposed the formation of " a society which should 
' aim to purchase thirty thousand acres of government land 
... in the most suitable sections of Canada . . . for the 
homeless refugees from American slavery to settle upon.' " 
The association, organized in the summer of 1852, set about 
carrying out Bibb's plan and accomplishing a work similar 
to the objects of the Elgin Association. The money required 
for the purchase of land was to be obtained partly through 
contributions and partly through sales of the farms first 

iHowe, Befugeesfrom Slavery in Canada West, pp. 70, 71. 
' Ibid., p. 108. * Ibid., p. 110. 


marketed. Each family of colonists was to have twenty-five 
acres, " five of which " it was to " receive free of cost, pro- 
vided " it should " within three years from the time of occu- 
pancy, clear and cultivate the same." For the remaining 
twenty acres the original price — two dollars an acre — was 
to be paid in nine equal annual payments. Those obtaining 
land from the Association, whether by purchase or gift, were 
to hold it for fifteen years before having the right to dispose 
of it. 

In the first year of the association's existence forty lots of 
twenty-five acres each were taken up, and arrangements were 
made for a school and church. Mrs. Laura S. Haviland was 
employed as a teacher in the fall of 1852, and at once opened 
both a day-school and a Sunday-school. She also organized 
an unsectarian or Christian Union Church, which later 
entered the Methodist Episcopal denomination. The mate- 
rial condition of the settlers Mrs. Haviland describes for us 
in a few words. She says : " They had erected a frame-house 
for school and meeting purposes. The settlers had built for 
themselves small log houses, and cleared from one to five 
acres each on their heavily timbered land, and raised corn, 
potatoes and other garden vegetables. A few had put in 
two and three acres of wheat, and were doing well for their 
first year." ^ 

The three colonies described in the foregoing pages are 
typical of a number of communities settled upon lands pur- 
chased in Canada for their use, and regulated by rules drawn 
up by the associations that had sprung into existence for the 
benefit of the homeless refugees. The assumption upon 
which these associations proceeded was that they were to 
deal with a class of persons who, notwithstanding their 
present destitution, were desirous of living worthily in the 
state of freedom to which they had just attained, a class 
needing direction, instruction and opportunity for self-help 
rather than sustained charity. It was intended that fugitives 
should not be left to work out alone their own salvation, but 
that the deficiencies of ignorance and inexperience should be 
mitigated for those willing to profit by the good offices of the 

1 Laura S. Haviland, A Woman's Life Work, pp. 192, 196, 201. 


missions. The fugitive aid society did not, as we have already- 
seen, try to prevent the fugitives from settling together in 
the form of communities; on the contrary, such coloniza- 
tion was the inevitable result of their procedure, and doubt- 
less to them it seemed desirable. Such is the suggestion 
contained in the arrangement under which farms were sold 
to purchasers by the Elgin and Refugees' Home associations : 
settlers on the tract of the former agreed to hold their farms 
for at least ten years without transferring their rights; 
settlers on the land of the latter were to keep their holdings 
for a minimum of fifteen years without transfer. In the 
dealings of the Home Association this restriction, we are 
told, caused some dissatisfaction. 

Whether this segregation of the colored people in localities 
more or less apart from the white population of Canada was 
a good thing for the refugees has been questioned. Dr. S. 
G. Howe studied the life of this class in Canada in 1862 as 
the representative of the United States Freedman's Inquiry 
Commission, and wrote a report which is indispensable for a 
knowledge of the conditions surrounding the colored settlers 
in the provinces. He summarizes his judgment as follows : 
" The negroes, going into an inhabited and civilized country, 
should not be systematically congregated in communities. 
Their natural affinities are strong enough to keep up all 
desirable relations without artificial encouragement. Expe- 
rience shows that they do best when scattered about, and 
forming a small proportion of the whole community. 

" Next, the discipline of the colonies, though it only sub- 
jects the negroes to what is considered useful apprenticeship, 
does prolong a dependence which amounts almost to servi- 
tude ; and does not convert them so surely into hardy, self- 
reliant men, as the rude struggle with actual difficulties, 
which they themselves have to face and to overcome, instead 
of doing so through an agent. 

" Taken as a whole, the colonists have cost to somebody a 
great deal of money and a great deal of effort ; and they 
have not succeeded so well as many who have been thrown 
entirely upon their own resources. . . . 

" It is just to say that some intelligent persons, friends of 


the colored people, believe that in none of the colonies, not 
even in Buxton, do they succeed so well, upon the whole, as 
those who are thrown entirely upon their own resources." ^ 

Upon examination, these objections do not seem to be well 
grounded. It is noteworthy that of the prime movers in the 
organization of the three colonies we have considered, two, 
Josiah Henson and Henry Bibb, were themselves fugitive 
slaves ; the third, the Rev. William King, had been at one 
time a slave-owner, and the fourth, the Rev. Hiram Wilson, 
was a missionary among the refugees for many years. These 
men were persons of wide observation and experience among 
fugitive slaves. It is safe to say that there were no men in 
Canada that knew better the disadvantages under which the 
average fugitive, just arrived from the South, was called upon 
to begin the struggle for a livelihood. And it will be ad- 
mitted that there were none in or out of Canada more zeal- 
ous and self-sacrificing in promoting the refugee's interests. 
These men evidently believed that the fugitive was not in a 
condition to do the best for himself upon his first arrival on 
free soil, that he needed to be delivered in some degree from 
the weight of his ignorance, and guided in his wholesome 
ambition to secure a home. 

To the eyes of some Canadian observers those runaways 
who had lingered a while in the Northern states before cross- 
ing the border into Canada appeared to be more vigorous, 
independent and successful in all undertakings than their 
less experienced brethren. Whatever superiority they may 
have possessed that is not assignable to natural endow- 
ment, cannot safely be set down to the unchecked play upon 
them of rough experiences, or to their facing and vanquishing 
great discouragements unaided. The runaway slaves that 
lived in the free states were not as a class left to fight their 
way to attainable success alone. They settled among friends 
in anti-slavery neighborhoods, whether in city or country, 
and were stimulated by the practical interest manifested by 
these persons in their welfare. They were thus enabled to 
benefit by those educative influences that the missions of 
Canada were organized to supply. It is not improbable that 

1 The Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 69, 70. 


some of the refugees whose self-reliant behavior called out 
the approval of Dr. Howe and others belonged to this group 
of partly disciplined fugitives. Dr. Howe must have seen 
many such persons, for his journey in Canada West was not 
made until 1862, after the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 had 
driven many of them from the states into the provinces. Drew 
remarks pertinentiy : " The Fugitive Slave Bill drove into 
Canada a great many who had resided in the free states. 
These brought some means with them, and their efforts and 
good example have improved the condition of the older 
settiers." ^ 

The other group of Canadian refugees — those whose pas- 
sage had been direct from the condition of abject dependence, 
where the whole routine of life had been determined by the 
master or overseer, to the condition of active independence 
and responsibility, where the readiness to take hold and to 
care for one's own interests were requii-ed — this group doubt- 
less contained persons of ability and energy ; but they must 
have been in the minority. During the later years of its 
history the Underground Railroad made flight comparatively 
easy for all who once got out of the slave states, so that frail 
women and young children often went through to Canada 
with littie or no difficulty. There were of course many 
individuals of extraordinary ability, who had enjoyed in 
slavery a wider range of experience than was vouchsafed 
the average slave ; but such people could take care of them- 
selves anywhere. Here we are concerned with the large 
number that needed to have the way pointed out to them 
if they were ever to become the possessors of their own 
homes ; thev were not sufficientiy informed to originate and 
carry on successful building and loan associations for them- 
selves, but they certainly could profit by an institution de- 
vised to serve the same purpose. If it be admitted that 
ownership of land and all that that implies was a good thing 
for the refugee, then it is difficult to see how that idea could 
have been better inculcated far and wide than through the 
methods employed by the Canadian organizations. 

Besides enabling refugees to secxire homes for themselves 

1 A Xorth-Side new of Slavery, p. 367. 


there were other offices the associations conceived to be 
a part of their duty, and the performance of which is set 
forth in their records. The first and most urgent of these 
was to supply immediate relief to the wayworn travellers 
continually arriving ; with this was combined the necessity 
of helping these persons to find employment. The British 
and American Institute at Dawn was obliged to conduct, as 
part of its workj^ghat would now be called perhaps asuggljL 
apd-eraploymentbureau. Josiah Henson, one of the'Iounders 
of the Institute, describing this branch of the work, says: 
" Many of these poor creatures arrive destitute of means, and 
often in want of suitable clothing, and these, as far as possible, 
have been supplied them. Since the passage of the late 
Fugitive Slave Bill, . . . they have arrived in large numbers 
at the Institute, and have been drafted off among their 
brethren who had been previously settled, and who are now 
making every effort and sacrifice to meet their destitute 
circumstances."^ Henry Bibb, of the Refugees' Home, as 
early as 1843 saw the need of maintaining a stock of supplies 
at Windsor out of which to relieve the immediate necessities 
of fugitives.^ The missionary, Isaac J. Rice, kept a similar 
supply room at Amherstburg.^ It appears from all this that 
the recognition of the deplorable destitution of arriving 
fugitives was general among the aid societies and their 
representatives, and that prompt action was taken to meet 
wants that could brook no delay. 

Another service performed by these colonization societies 
was that of providing superior schools for the colored people ; 
education for all that could take it was one of the cardinal 
features of their programme. The state of public sentiment 
in some places in Canada was such that colored children 
were either altogether excluded from the public schools, or, 
if allowed to enter, they were annoyed beyond endurance by 
the rude behavior of their fellow-pupils. In some places 
they braved the prejudice against them, but the numbers 
courageous enough to do this were insignificant. Under 

^ The Life of Josiah Henson, as narrated by Himself, p. 117. 
* Conversation with the Rev. Jacob Cummings, a refugee now living at 
Columbus, O. 8 76j^_ 


such circumstances the best that could be done by the friends 
of the black race was to open schools under private manage- 
ment. That the societies were not averse to mixed schools 
is shown by the fact that white pupils were admitted in vari- 
ous instances to classes formed primarily for colored children.^ 
This need of schools did not appeal alone to the colonization 
societies. It was seen and responded to by other organiza- 
tions ; thus the English Colonial Church and School Society 
thought it advisable to locate schools at London,^ Amherst- 
burg,^ Colchester* and perhaps other places; and certain 
religious bodies of the United States felt it incumbent on 
them to support school-teachers (ten or more) in different 
parts of Canada.^ Besides the schools thus provided a few 
were conducted by individuals; as examples of this latter 
class may be named a private school at Chatham taught by 
Alfred Whipper,^ a colored man, and another at Windsor 
managed by Mrs. Mary E. Bibb, the wife of Henry Bibb men- 
tioned above.'^ 

The supervision of the colonies maintained by their re- 
spective associations does not appear to have been unduly 
strict. Occasionally controversies came up over what was 
thought by the refugees to be improper assumption of author- 
ity by some agent or representative of the association, but an 
examination of the terms under which land was taken by the 
intending settlers brings to light only such rules as were 
meant to foster intelligence, morality and sobriety among the 
colonists. The aid societies were not only zealous for educa- 
tion. They also provided against those evil influences to 
which they thought the negroes were most likely to succumb. 
Thus, for example, in the case of the Buxton ^ and Refugees' 
Home settlements the manufacture and sale of intoxicants 
were forbidden. Such regulations seem to have been sus- 

^ First Annual Eeport of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, 1852, 
Appendix, p. 22. 

2 Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 148. 
«i6jd.,p. 349. 

* Ibid., p. 369. 

' First Annual Report of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, 1852, p. 22. 

• Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 236. 

' Ibid., p. 322. 8 Ibid., pp. 294, 325. 


tained by the sentiment of the communities for which they 
were made, and are not known to have been the source of 
opposition. Indeed, the directors of Buxton specially com- 
mended the habits of sobriety prevalent among the people 
whose best interests they were striving to promote,^ and the 
Rev. William King found satisfaction in the fact that a 
saloon opened on the borders of that settlement could not 
find customers enough to support it, and closed its doors 
within a twelvemonth. His testimony relating to the stand- 
ard of social purity mantained by the colonists was creditable 
in its showing, and indicated a high sense of morality scarcely 
to be expected among a people stained by the gross prac- 
tices of slave-life.2 Of the colored people in the neighbor- 
hood of Dawn Institute the reports were equally good. Mr. 
Drew found them to be " generally very prosperous farmers — 
of good morals, and mostly Methodists and Baptists." ^ Mr. 
Henson related with evident pride that out of the three 
thousand or four thousand colored people congregated in the 
settlements about Dawn not one had " been sent to jail for 
any infraction of the laws during the last seven years 

The widest range of dissatisfaction appeared at the Refu- 
gees' Home, where the fugitives are reputed to have been 
unduly burdened. Thomas Jones, not a colonist, and with- 
out any personal grievances to complain of, voiced the feel- 
ing to Mr. Drew. After relating some annoying changes 
made in the regulations as to the time in which clearings 
were to be made, as to the size of the houses to be erected 
and so forth, he declared that the settlers "doubt about 
getting deeds, . . . The restrictions in regard to liquor, and 
not selling [their land] under so many years, nor the power 
to will . . . property to . . . friends, only to children if . . . 
[they] have any, make them dissatisfied. They want to do 
as they please." From this it appears that the population of 

' Third Annual Report (1852), quoted by Drew, p. 293. 
2 Howe, Mefugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 109, 110. 
' Drew, A Norlh-Side View of Slavery, p. 309. 

* The Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Simself, 
p. 118. 


Refugees' Home was not altogether content with the local 
government under which it liyed, but apparently the com- 
plaints made were to be attributed more to the unjust 
changes in the charter of the colony than to the moral regime 
the Home Association sought to enforce. 

In general we may say, then, that in so far as the three 
colonies considered were typical of the whole class, there was 
nothing inherent in the provisions of their constitutions or 
in the nature of their organizations to place their members in 
a kind of servitude. As property owners, these citizens be- 
came subject to legitimate obligations, which might have been 
differently arranged, but could scarcely have been less oner- 
ous or of better intention. The requirement that ownership 
should be for a period of ten or fifteen years, made by the 
Elgin and Refugees' Home societies, was perhaps annoying; 
but the explanation, if not the full justification, of such a de- 
mand lay in the evident desire of the societies to give all 
purchasers ample time in which to make their payments, 
and in the irresponsibility of the class with which they were 

It is impossible to tell how many landed colonies there 
were in Canada. Dr. Howe, perhaps the best contemporary 
observer, speaks indefinitely of benevolent persons that formed 
organizations at various periods for the relief and aid of the 
refugees, and says that these organizations generally took the 
form of societies for procuring tracts of land and settling 
colonies upon them, but he gives no further details.^ What- 
ever their number, it is quite certain that these colonies com- 
prised but a small part of the refugee population. The 
natural tendency was for fugitives to drift at once to the 
towns, where there was immediate prospect of relief and 
employment. In this way many of the Canadian centres 
came to have an increasing proportion of colored inhabitants. 
The towns first receiving such additions were naturally those 
of mercantile importance in the lake traffic of the decades 
before the Civil War. Thus, Amherstburg and Windsor, 
Port Stanley and Port Burwell, St. Catherines, Hamilton and 

1 Howe, Befugees from Slaver;/ in Canada West, p. 69. 


Toronto, and Kingston and Montreal, early became important 
places of resort for escaped slaves. 

The movement vi^as normally from these and other centres 
on the lake shore, or near it, to the interior. How rapid it 
was we can only judge by the few chance indications that 
remain. During Drew's travels in Canada West he learned 
that in 1832 the town of Chatham was a mere hamlet com- 
prising a few houses and two or three shops, although the 
oldest deed of the place on record is dated 1801. Steamboats 
did not begin to ply on the river Sydenham between Chatham 
and Detroit until 1837. But long before this year, and, in 
fact, at the first settlement of the town, colored people began 
to come in.^ When Levi Coffin made his first trip to Canada, 
in 1844, he visited a number of settlements of colored people 
scattered along the river Thames north of Dawn, and found 
the colony at Wilberforce already established.^ This colony 
had been founded as early as 1830, and because it was 
originally settled by a group of emancipated slaves, it soon 
began to attract new settlers from the incoming stream of 
runaways. By 1846 the more distant interior was invaded. 
In that year the long strip of country stretching from the 
western extremity of Lake Ontario across to Lake Huron, 
and designated on the general map as Queen's Bush, was 
entered by pioneers who had escaped from slavery. This 
region was not surveyed until about 1848, and by that time 
there were as many as fifty families located there.' Some 
time during the years 1845 to 1847, the Rev. R. S. W. Sorrick 
went as far north as Oro, where he found " some fifty persons 
settled, many comfortable and doing well, but many [suffer- 
ing] a great deal from poverty." * The surveying of the tract 
called Queen's Bush, and the subsequent arranging of the 
terms of payment for land already occupied, caused a number 
of colored settlers to sell their clearings in " the Bush " and 
move away. Some of these, it appears, went south to Buxton, 
but some went north to the shores of Georgian Bay and 

1 A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 235. 
" Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, p. 521. 
' Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 189. 
* Ibid., p. 190. 


located at Owen Sound.^ From this testimony it is certain 
that by 1850 fugitive slaves had found their way in consider- 
able numbers throughout the inter-lake portion of Canada 

Farther east, the Province of Quebec attracted negroes 
from the Southern states as early as the thirties ; and they 
began to make pilgrimages northward by way of secret lines 
of travel through New England. By 1850, there were at least 
five or six of these lines, all well patronized, considering their 
remoteness from slaveholding territory. Maritime routes, by 
way of ports along the New England coast to New Brunswick, 
Nova Scotia, and even Cape Breton Island, seem also to have 
existed. A case is cited by the Rev. Austin Willey in his 
book, entitled Ayiti-Slavery in the State and Nation, in which 
more than twenty colored refugees were sent from Portland 
to New Brunswick at one time, soon after the rescue of 
Shadrach in Boston, in 1851. It is reported that there are 
still settlements of ex-slaves in Nova Scotia, near Halifax ;2 
and the statement has recently been made that " there are at 
least two negro families living in Inverness County, Cape 
Breton, who are, in all probability, the descendants of fugitive 
slaves." 2 

As regards this movement into the Eastern provinces, no 
detailed information can be had. Even in the Western lake- 
bound region, it was the towns that were the most accessible 
for the traveller desirous of studying the condition of fugi- 
tives; most visitors contented themselves with the briefest 
memorials of their visits ; and those whose accounts are at 
the same time helpful and extended, describe or even men- 
tion only a limited number of abiding-places of escaped slaves. 
Though Drew notices in his book but thirteen communities, 
and Dr. Howe refers to eleven only, numerous other places 
are mentioned by other observers. Sketching his first visit 
to Canada, Mr. Coffin writes : " Leaving Gosfield County, 

1 Drew, North-Side View of Slavery, p. 190. 

2 A statement to this effect, which appeared in the Marine Journal of 
New York, is quoted in McClure's Magazine for May, 1897, p. 618. 

• See the letter signed "D. F.," printed in McClure's Magazine, May, 
1897, p. 618. 


we made our way to Chatham and Sydenham, visiting the 
various neighborhoods of colored people. We spent several 
days at the settlement near Down's Mills, and visited the 
institution under the care of Hiram Wilson, called the British 
and American Manual Labor Institute. . . . From this place 
we proceeded up the river Thames to London, visiting the 
different settlements of colored people on our way, and then 
went to the Wilberforce colony." ^ After naming a list of 
twelve towns near which refugees had settled, Josiah Henson 
says: "Others are scattered in small numbers in different 
townships, and at Toronto there are about four hundred or 
five hundred variously employed. . . ." ^ Such testimony 
goes to show that the refugee population of Canada was 
widely distributed, both in the cities and towns and in the 

If the information at hand in regard to the distribution 
of the refugees is unsatisfactory, it can hardly be expected 
that the numbers can now be ascertained. The official fig- 
ures of the successive Canadian censuses are untrustworthy. 
Dr. Howe, who studied them, concluded that, " It is impossi- 
ble to ascertain the number of exiles who have found refuge 
in Canada since 1800. ... It is difficult, moreover, to 
ascertain the present number (1862). The census of 1850 
is confused. It puts the number in Upper Canada at 2,502 
males and 2,167 females. But in a note it is stated, ' there 
are about 8,000 colored persons in Western Canada.' This 
word " about " is an admission of the uncertainty ; and as if 
to make that uncertainty greater, the same census in another 
part puts the number in Western Canada at 4,669." The 
census of 1860 Dr. Howe found to be equally unreliable. 
In giving the colored population as 11,223, it underrated 
the number greatly, as he discovered by looking into the 
records of several cities and by making inquiry of town offi- 
cers. In this manner he learned that the number of colored 
people living in St. Catherines was about 700, although the 
census showed only 472 ; in Hamilton, probably more than 

1 lieminiscences of Levi Coffin, p. 251. The italics are my own. 
" The Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Himself, 
p. 100. 


500, despite the government showing of only 62 ; in Toronto, 
934, although the census gave but 510 ; in London, Canada 
West, as the mayor estimated, there were 75 families of col- 
ored people, whereas the, census showed only 36 persons. 
"There has been no movement of the colored population," 
Dr. Howe tells us, " sufficient to explain such discrepancies ; 
and the conclusion is that the census of 1850, and that of 
1860, included some of the colored people in the white 
column. " ^ 

If the information contained in the census reports of 
the Canadas relating to the refugee population of the 
provinces is misleading, so. also is it true that little value 
can be attached to the estimates made at various times 
by visitors to the communities of fugitives, most of whom 
had inadequate data upon which to base their con- 
clusions. These estimates ■ not only differ widely, but 
sometimes leave room for doubt as to what geographical 
area and period of time they are intended to cover. 
Coffin in 1844 was told that there were about forty thou- 
sand fugitives in Canada; 2 but eight years later Henson 
estimated the number at between twenty thousand and 
thirty thousand, and daily increasing.^ In the same year 
(1852) the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada in its First 
Annual Report stated that there were about thirty thousand 
colored residents in Canada West.* The Rev. Hiram Wil- 
son said from the lecture platform that there were sixty 
thousand fugitives in Canada, and Elder Anthony Bingey, a 
coworker with Mr. Wilson, who heard this estimate given 
by his friend, informed the writer that ^Ir. Wilson had trav- 
elled over the country from Toronto westward and was as 
competent a judge as could be found in Ontario.^ John 
Brown attended a conference at Chatham in the spring of 
1858, and his biographer, Mr. R. J. Hiaton, thinks there 
were probably not less than seventy-five thousand fugitives 

1 Howe, The Befugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 15, 16. 

* Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, p. 253. 

» Tke Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Himself, 
Appendix, p. 99. 

* Quoted by Howe in T?ie Befugees from Slavery in Canada West, p. 17. 
5 Conversation with Mr. Bingey, Windsor, Ont., July 31, 1895. 


living in Canada West at that time.i The Rev. W. M. 
Mitchell, a negro missionary writing in 1860, was of the 
opinion that there were sixty thousand colored people in 
Upper Canada, that fifteen thousand of these were free-born, 
and that the remaining forty-five thousand were fugitive 
slaves from the United States. 2 The Rev. Dr. Willes, Pro- 
fessor of Divinity in Toronto College, is quoted as having 
said that there were about sixty thousand emancipated slaves 
in Canada, the most of whom had escaped from bondage.^ 
Dr. Howe came to the conclusion in 1863 that the whole 
number of slaves enfranchised by residence in the provinces 
was between thirty and forty thousand. He thought that 
at the time of his visit the population did not fall below fif- 
teen thousand nor exceed twenty thousand ; although other 
observers, he said, estimated it as ranging from twenty 
thousand to thirty thousand.* 

Besides the diversity of the figures here presented, it 
should be noted that most of the estimates refer only to 
Canada West ; and further that they take no account of the 
losses under a high death-rate, due to the action of the new 
climatic conditions upon the settlers. Travellers were not 
in possession of the elements necessary for a computation, 
the resident missions were tempted to overstate, and the 
Canadian officials did not know how to secure data, and, per- 
haps, did not try to secure them fully. One can only say that 
the numerous lines of Underground Railroad would not have 
been taxed beyond their capacity to convey a number of 
refugees equal to the highest estimate given above during 
the period these lines are known to have been active. 

The great majority of escaped slaves were possessed of 
but little more than the boon of freedom when they arrived 
in what was for them "the promised land." Church mis- 
sions, anti-slavery societies and colonies found in them worthy 
subjects for their benefactions, which were intended to put 
the recipients in the way of earning their own livelihood. 

^ John Brown and His Men, p. 171. 

" The Underground Railroad, p. 127. 

'^ Ibid., p. 166. 

* The Befugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 15, 17. 


The need of clothing, shelter and employment was provided 
for as promptly as circumstances would allow, and the fugi- 
tives soon came to realize that the efforts made in their behalf 
were to help them attain that independence of which they 
had been so long deprived. 

As the region to which the refugees had recourse in largest 
numbers was well covered with forests, and was beginning 
to be cleared for tillage, a common occupation among them 
was that of the woodsman. Many were able to hire them- 
selves to the native farmers to cut timber, while many 
others, who arranged to lease or buy land, went to work 
to clear garden patches and little farms for themselves. 
Josiah Henson sought to develop a lumber industry in the 
neighborhood of Dawn by setting up a sawmill on the farm 
of the British and American Institute, and shipping its 
products to Boston and New York.^ Such work, in a climate 
to which they were unaccustomed, was an experience beyond 
the strength of some of the fugitives; and their exposure 
to the cold of the Canadian winter sowed the seeds of con- 
sumption in many. 2 

Farming appears to have been the occupation naturally 
preferred by the refugees, and probably the majority of them 
looked forward to owning farms. ^ It was the pursuit their 
masters followed, and for which they themselves were best 
adapted. The way to it was open through the demand for 
farm-hands on the part of many white settlers, and the 
special encouragement frequently needed was supplied by 
the example and aid of one or another of the colonies. 

It is not surprising that a considerable number of the 
fugitives contented themselves with the present enjoyment 
of their newly acquired liberty, and neglected to make pro- 
vision for the future. Such persons were quite ready to 
work, but were slow to understand how they could acquire 
land in time, and secure the full profits of their labor to 
themselves. The weight of enforced ignorance, dependence 
and poverty was upon them. Not infrequently they entered 

1 Father Benson's Story of Mis Own Life, p. 173 et seq. 

" This is substantiated by tbie testimony of various Canadian refugees. 

> First Annual Report of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, p. 15. 


into profitless bargains, leasing wild lands on short terms, 
and finding themselves dispossessed when their clearings 
were about ready for advantageous cultivation.^ Their 
knowledge of agriculture was scanty, and their planting, 
in consequence, often injudicious. They were, however, 
zealous to learn. The Rev. R. S. W. Sorrick, who gave 
some instruction to the settlers at Oro in the art of farm- 
ing, declared them to be a most teachable people. ^ The 
refugees at Colchester appear to have been equally open- 
minded to the practical suggestions given them in a series 
of lectures on "crops, wages and profit" delivered before 
them by Mr. Henson. 

It is well known that among the slave-owners of the bor- 
der states the practice existed widely of entrusting some 
of their negroes with the responsibilities of farm manage- 
ment ; and that in the same portion of the South slaves were 
often permitted to hire their own time for farm labor ; thou- 
sands of runaways also had gathered experience in the free 
states before their emigration to Canada; hence one is pre- 
pared in a measure to understand the rapid strides made by 
a large class of the negro population in the country of their 
adoption. Many of these people already had a gauge of their 
ability, and were not afraid to go forward in the acquirement 
of lands and homes of their own. To the advancement made 
by this numerous class is due the favorable comment called 
forth from observing persons, both Canadians and visiting 
Americans. Dr. Howe has left us some interesting informa- 
tion concerning the condition of refugee farmers in Canada. 
He found some cultivating small gardens of their own near 
large towns, where they had a ready market for the produce 
they raised ; others, more widely scattered, tilled little farms, 
which for the most part were clear of encumbrance ; these 
farms were " inferior to the first-class farms of their region 
in point of cultivation, fences, stock and the like," but were 
" equal to the average of second-class farms " ; their owners 
lacked the capital, intelligence and skill of the best farmers, 

1 Father Hensori's Story of His Own Life, pp. 165, 166 ; Drew, A North- 
Side View of Slavery, pp. 196, 369. 

' Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 120. 


but, far from being lazy, stupid or thriftless, supported them- 
selves in a fair degree of comfort, and occupied houses not 
easily distinguishable in appearance from the farmhouses of 
their white neighbors. The miserable hut of the worthless 
negro squatter was occasionally to be seen, but usually the 
rude cabin and small clearing marked the spot where a newly 
arrived fugitive had begun his home, which in due course 
was to pass through successive stages until it should become 
a well-cleared farm, with good buildings and a large stock of 
animals and tools.* 

A fact deplored by some friends of the refugees was the 
iuclination to congregate in towns and cities.^ A committee 
of investigation appointed by the Anti-Slavery Society of 
Canada reported in 1852 that, although many fugitives were 
scattered through the various districts, the larger number 
was massing in certain localities, those named being Elgin, 
Dawn and Colchester village settlements, Sandwich, Queen's 
Bush, Wilberforce, Hamilton and St. Catherines, together 
with the Niagara district and Toronto.^ According to 
Josiah Henson the towns about which these people were 
gathering were Chatham, RUey, Sandwich, Anderton (prob- 
ably Anderson), IMalden, Colchester, Gonfield (doubtless 
Gosfield), London, Hamilton and the colonies at Dawn and 
Wilberforce.* Other centres undoubtedly existed, though 
no exhaustive list of such places could be made from the 
meagre accounts left us. 

The movement to the towns was natural, for friends and 
employment were more easily to be found there than else- 
where. Certain parts or quarters of the towns rapidly 
filled up with the negroes, and the bonds of race and sym- 
pathy came into full play, causing constant accretions of 
new settlers. This was especially true of Fort Maiden or 
Amherstburg, for years the principal port of entry for fugi- 
tives landing from the Michigan and Ohio borders. The 

^ The Befugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 65, 66. See also Drew, 
A Xorth-Side View of Slavery, p. 368. 

2 Mitchell, The Underground Railroad, p. 128. 

» First Annual Beport of the Society, pp. 16, 17. 

* The Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Himself, 
p. 100. 


result in this and similar cases was unsatisfactory ; the peo- 
ple seemed not to do as well as in other places.^ In Hamil- 
ton and Toronto, we are told, the dwellings of the blacks 
were scattered among those of the whites, instead of being 
crowded together in a single suburban locality more or less 
distinct from the city of which it formed a part.^ However, 
local conditions existing in Toronto, such as rent charges, 
tended to confine the colored people to the northwest sec- 
tion of the city.2 

A wide range of occupations was open to the refugees in 
the towns ; besides the lighter kinds of service about hotels 
and other public houses, and the work of plastering and 
whitewashing, often performed by negroes, various trades 
were followed, such as blacksmithing, carpentering, build- 
ing, painting, mill-work and other handicrafts. There were 
good negro mechanics in Hamilton, Chatham, Windsor, Am- 
herstburg and other places. A few were engaged in shop- 
keeping, or were employed as clerks, while a still smaller 
number devoted themselves to teaching and preaching. 

As a class the fugitives in the towns, as in the country, 
were accounted steady and industrious, and their dwellings 
were said to be " generally superior to those of the Irish, or 
other foreign emigrants of the laboring class," and "far 
superior to the negro huts upon slave plantations, which 
many of them formerly inhabited."* Dr. J. Wilson Moore, 
of Philadelphia, visited the refugee communities in vari- 
ous Canadian towns, for example at Chatham, London and 
Wilberforce, and was favorably impressed with what he saw ; 
with the orderly deportment of the crowds of colored peo- 

1 Dr. Howe quotes the following statement from Mr. Brush, town clerk of 
Maiden : "A portion of them (the colored people) are pretty well behaved, 
and another portion not. ... A great many of these colored people go and 
sail (are sailors) in the summer-time, and in the winter lie around, and don't 
do much. . . We have to help a great many of them, more than any other 
class of people we have here. I have been clerk of the council for three 
years, and have had the opportunity of knowing. I think the council have 
given more to the colored people than to any others." See also A North- 
Side View of Slavery, p. 58. 

" A North-Side View of Slavery, p. 62. 

^ Ibid., p. 94. 

* Howe, The Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, p. 63. 


pie at Chatham while returning from a celebration of the 
anniversary of the West Indian emancipation, with the air 
of neatness and comfort displayed by the homes of the 
fugitives at London, with the advance from log cabins to 
brick and frame-houses made by the settlers at WUberf orce.^ 
The weight of evidence supplied by Mr. Drew was unques- 
tionably favorable to the view that the refugees were making 
substantial progress. He found the condition of the colored 
people in Toronto such as to be a proper cause of satisfac- 
tion for the philanthropist ; many men in Hamilton were 
well-to-do ; concerning those living in London he learned 
that some were highly intelligent and respectable, but that 
others wasted their time and neglected their opportunities ; 
he noted that there was great activity among the negroes 
at Chatham, where they engaged in a large variety of man- 
ual pursuits ; at Windsor, almost all the members of this 
class had comfortable homes, and some owned neat and 
handsome houses ; at Sandwich a few were house-owners, 
the rest were tenants ; in Amherstburg the assurance was 
given that the colored people of Canada were doing better 
than the free negroes in the United States ; the settlers at 
New Canaan were reported to be making extraordinary 
progress, considering the length of time they had lived 
there ; and out of a colored population of seventy-eight at 
Gosfield all of the heads of families, with two or three 
exceptions, were freeholders.^ Dr. Howe, who visited the 
houses of the colored people in the outskirts of Chatham 
and other large places, described them as being for the most 
part small and tidy two-story houses with garden lots about 
them, neatly furnished, the tables decently spread and plenti- 
fully supplied. He was convinced that the fugitive slaves 
lived better than foreign immigrants in the same region, 
and clothed their children better.^ 

The relation of the slave to his wife and children was a 

1 Still, Underground Bailroad Records, p. xvii. 

* A North-Side View of Slavery, pp. 94, 119, 147, 234, 321, 344, 348, 376, 

* The Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 63, 64. See also 
Mitchell's Underground Bailroad, pp. 130, 131, 133, 135, 137-139, 142-144, 
146, 148 et seq. 


precarious one in the South, especially in the border region 
from which most of the Canadian exiles came. Slave-breed- 
ing for the Southern market was extensively carried on in 
Virginia, Kentucky and other border states ; slave-traders 
made frequent trips through this section ; and their coming 
brought consternation, distress and separation to many a 
slave-family. These and other violations of the domestic 
ties might be expected to react on the home life of the slave- 
family, tending to discourage regard for the forms of family 
life, and to take away incentive to constancy. In view of 
such degradation it is surprising to note the care taken by 
many refugees for the formal legitimation of the alliances 
made by them in slavery. Once secure in their freedom 
and in their domestic relations, they began to substitute for 
the marriage after " slave fashion " the legal form of marriage, 
which they saw observed about them in Canada. Dr. Howe 
noticed that the fugitives settled themselves in families, 
respected the sanctity of marriage, and showed a general 
improvement in morals.^ 

This recognition of a new standard of social virtue sig- 
nifies a great gain on the part of the refugees. As the with- 
holding of any real instruction from the slaves in the South 
helped to brutalize them, so their moral elevation in Canada 
went hand in hand with their enlightenment through schools 
and religious teaching. What advantages were afforded 
them in the way of education in their new abiding-place, 
and what measure of benefit did they derive from these 
opportunities ? 

It appears that under the Canadian law colored people 
were permitted either to send their children to the common 
schools or to have separate schools provided from their pro- 
portionate share of the school funds. In some districts, 
however, local conditions stood in the way of the education 
of colored children. Many of the parents did not appreciate 
the need of sending their children to school regularly ; it 
often happened that they were too destitute to take advan- 

1 The Hefugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 95, 101, Appendix, 
pp. 109, 110. In her book, A Woman's Life Work, p. 193, Mrs. Laura S. 
Haviland reports some interesting cases of this sort. 


tage of these opportunities ; again, they were unaccustomed 
to the enjoyment of equal priyileges with the whites and were 
timid about assuming them. The children, unused to the 
climate of the new country, perhaps also thinly clad, were 
sickly and often unable to go to school.^ 

Prejudice was also not wanting in some quarters among 
the whites. In the town of Sandwich, on the Detroit River, 
in 1851 or 1852, the feelings of the two people were much 
agitated over the question of mixed schools.^ The towns 
of Chatham, London and Hamilton appear also to have been 
more or less affected by prejudice against the negro. ^ Partly 
owing to this prejudice, and partly to their own preference, 
the colored people, acting under the provision of the law 
that allowed them to have separate schools, set up their own 
schools in Sandwich and in many other parts of Ontario.* 
Drew incidentally noted the existence of separate schools at 
Colchester, Amherstburg, Sandwich, Dawn and Buxton ; the 
existence of private schools at London, Windsor and perhaps 
one or two other places ; and the presence of an extremely 
small number of colored children in the common schools at 
Hamilton and London. Concerning Toronto, he tells us that 
no distinction existed there in regard to school privileges. 
Such figures as Drew supplies show the separate, private and 
mission schools to have been more numerously attended than 
the public or common schools. The former furnished the 
conditions under which whatever appreciation of education 
there was native in a community of negroes, or whatever taste 
for it could be awakened there, was free to assert itself unhin- 
dered by real or imagined opposition. That the refugees 
were capable of a genuine interest in the schools provided 
for them, even under the most disheartening circumstances, 
appears from the fact that " many of the colored settlers were 
attracted to Dresden and Dawn by the preferred advantages 
of education on the industrial plan in the Dawn Institute."* 
Adults and children both attended ; the schools of the 
mission-workers were intended to reach as many as possible 

1 Mitchell, The Underground Bailroad, pp. 140, 164, 165. 

» Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, pp. 341, 342. 

» Ibid., pp. 118, 147, 235. ♦ Ibid., p. 341. « n^ia., p. 308. 


of a constituency made up largely of grown persons. An 
evening school for adults was established in Toronto, and 
had a good attendance. ^ Sunday-schools were an important 
accessory, furnishing, as they did, opportunities to many 
whose week days were full of other cares. Mrs. Haviland's 
experience was probably that of mission-teachers in other 
parts of Canada. On Sundays her schoolhouse was filled 
to overflowing, many of her congregation coming five or six 
miles to get to the meeting. The Bible was read with eager- 
ness by those whose ignorance required prompting at every 
word. The oppression of past years was forgotten, for the 
hour, in the pleasure of learning to read the Word of God. 
An aged couple, past eighty, were among the most regular 
attendants.^ The spread of the earnest desire for knowledge 
shown in these meetings would suffice to explain an observa- 
tion made by Dr. Howe in 1863 to the effect that a surpris- 
ingly large number could then read and write. ^ 

An agency illustrative of the refugees' desire for self-im- 
provement was the association made up of local societies 
called " True Bands." The first of these clubs was organized 
at Amherstburg or Maiden in September, 1854, and in less 
than two years there were fourteen such societies in various 
parts of Canada West. The total membership of the associa- 
tion is not known, but the True Band of Maiden comprised 
six hundred persons, and that of Chatham, on the first en- 
rolment, three hundred and seventy-five. Persons of both 
sexes were admitted to membership, and a small monthly 
payment was required. The objects of the association were 
comprehensive ; they included the improvement of the 
schools, the increase of the school attendance among the 
colored people, the abatement of race prejudice, the arbitra- 
tion of disputes between colored persons, the employment of 
a fund for aiding destitute persons just arriving from slavery, 
the suppression of begging in behalf of refugees by self-ap- 
pointed agents, and so forth. The True Band at Maiden did 
much good work ; and in all other places where the societies 

1 First Annual Meport of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, p. 16. 

2 A Woman's Life Work, pp. 192, 193. 

5 The Befugees from Slavery in Canada West, p. 77. 


were formed it is reported that excellent results were secured. 
These clubs demonstrated their ability by concerted action 
to care for numerous strangers as they arrived in Canada 
after their long pilgrimage.^ 

Another object of the True Band association was to pre- 
vent divisions in the church, and as far as possible to heal 
those that had already occurred. This provision was appar- 
ently intended to serve as a check on the disposition of the 
refugees to multiply churches. " Whenever there are a few 
families gathered together," wrote one observer, " they split 
up into various sects and each sect must have a meeting-house 
of its own. . . . Their ministers have canvassed the United 
States and England, contribution-box in hand ; and by ap- 
pealing to sectarian zeal, got the means of building up taber- 
nacles of brick and wood, trusting to their own zeal for 
gathering a congregation. . . ."^ This eagerness to build 
churches has been criticised as consuming much of the time 
and substance of the exiles, and causing division where union 
was desirable. But if this side of the religious life and activ- 
ities of the refugees calls for condemnation, another side, 
which was fostered by the new conditions, was the more 
marked manifestation of the religious nature of the blacks in 
what has been well called in contrast with their emotionalism 
the higher forms of conscience, morality and good works. ^ 

The minds of many of the Canadian exiles were ever going 
back to the friends and loved ones they had left behind them 
on the plantations of the South. Each new band of pilgrims 
as it came ashore at some Canadian port was scanned by little 
groups of negroes eagerly looking for familiar faces. Strange 
and solemn reunions after years of separation and of hardship 
took place along the friendly shores of Canada. But the 
fugitive that was safe in the promised land was anxious to 
assist fortune, and as soon as he had learned to write or could 
find an acquaintance to write for him, was likely to send a 
letter to some trusted agent of the Underground Railroad 
for advice or assistance in an attempt to release some slave 

1 Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, pp. 236, 237. 

2 Howe, The Refugees from Slavery in, Canada West, p. 92. 
» Ibid. 


or family of slaves from their thraldom. Many, we know, 
took a more dangerous method than this, and went personally 
to seek their relatives in the South, and piloted them safely 
back to English soil ; but the appeal to anti-slavery friends 
in the States, while probably less effective, sometimes secured 
the desired results. "William Still, the chairman of the Act- 
ing Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia, — a position that 
brought him in contact with hundreds of escaped slaves as 
they were being sent beyond our northern frontier, — was 
the recipient of numerous letters entreating his aid for the 
deliverance of the kinsmen of refugees.^ 

Fugitive slaves were admitted to citizenship in the prov- 
inces on the same terms as other immigrants. Many of them 
became property owners in the course of time, paid their 
allotted share of the taxes, and thus gained the franchise ; 
Dr. Howe examined the records of several towns in 1862 
and made comparisons of the amount of taxable property 
owned by whites and blacks. According to his state- 
ment the proportion of white rate or tax payers to the 
white population of Maiden was in the ratio of one to 
three and one-third ; that of the colored ratepayers of 
the town to the colored population, one to eleven. The 
average amount paid by the whites was 19.52, while that 
paid by the blacks was f5.12. In Chatham the white rate- 
payers were " about one to every three and one-half of 
the white population, and the colored about one to every 
thirteen of the colored population." The average tax paid 
by white and black was $10.63 and $4.98 respectively. At 
Windsor it appears that the proportion of ratepayers among 
the whites was as one to seven and one-fourth, and among 
the blacks it was as one to five. Here the per capita average 
was 118.76 for the former, and $4.18 for the latter.^ These 
towns, it is to be noted, were not colonies ; and in them the 
fugitives were offered no peculiar inducements to become 
the owners of property. All things considered, the showing 
is highly creditable for the negroes. 

1 Still, Underground Bailroad Records, 2d ed., pp. 59, 65, 105, 137, 193, 
249, 263, 291, 293, 337, 385, 448, 490. 

* The Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 61, 62. 


The fact that they had been slaves did not debar the ref- 
ugees from the exercise of whatever political rights they 
had acquired. The negro voters used their privilege freely 
in common with the native citizens, allying themselves with 
the two regular parties of Canada, the Conservative and the 
Reform.^ In some communities negroes were elected to 
office. The Rev. WiUiam King, head of the Buxton Set- 
tlement, has mentioned the offices of pathmasters, school 
trustees, and councillors as those to which colored men were 
chosen within his knowledge. These, he said, were as high 
as the negro had then attained, and he thought that white 
men would refuse to vote for a black running for Par- 
Uament.2 Dr. J. Wilson Moore, a friend of the refugees, 
said of them in 1858 that their standing was fair, and that 
the laws of the land made no distinction. He observed that 
they did jury duty with their white neighbors, and served as 
school directors and road commissioners. On the whole, he 
thought, they were as much respected as their intelligence 
and virtue entitled them to be.^ 

In view of the remarkable progress made by the refugees 
and of their general serviceableness as settlers in the prov- 
inces, it is easy to understand why the Canadian govern- 
ment maintained its favorable attitude towards them to the 
end of the long period of immigration. In 1859 the Governor- 
General testified to the favorable opinion the central govern- 
ment entertained of the fugitives as settlers and citizens by 
assuring the Rev. W. M. Mitchell that " We can stUl afford 
them homes in our dominions " ; and the Parliament of On- 
tario manifested its interest in their continued welfare by 
voting to incorporate the Association for the Education and 
Elevation of the Colored People of Canada upon the showing 
that the association would thereby be enabled to extend its 
philanthropic labors among the blacks.* The Canadian 
authorities seem to have become established in the view 
reached after a candid and prolonged investigation by Dr. 

1 Still, Underground Bailroad Mecords, p. xxvii. 

' Howe, Hie Befugees from, Slavery in Canada West, Appendix, p. 108. 

• Still, Underground Bailroad Becords, p. xvii. , 

* Mitchell, The Underground Bailroad, pp. 155, 156. ' 



Howe, that the refugees "promote the industrial and 
material interests of the country and are valuable citi- 

1 The Sefugees from Slavery in Canada West, p. 102. William Still, who 
made a trip through Canada West in 1855, expressed a view similar to that 
above quoted, and added the words: "To say that there are not those 
amongst the colored people in Canada, as every place, who are very poor, 
. . . who will commit crime, who indulge in habits of indolence and intem- 
perance, . . . would be far from the truth. Nevertheless, may not the same 
be said of white people, even where they have had the best chances in every 
particular 1 " Underground Railroad Becords, p. xxviii. 


This church once stood near the house of Lewis Hayden, (i6 Phillips Street, 
Boston, Massachusetts. 

(From an old engraving.) 



There were many fugitives from bondage that did not 
avaU themselves of the protection afforded by the proximity 
of Canadian soil. For various reasons these persons remained 
within the borders of the free states ; some were drawn by 
the af&nities of race to seek permanent homes in communities 
of colored people ; some, keeping the stories of their past 
lives hidden, found employment as well as oblivion among 
the crowds in cities and towns ; some, choosing localities 
more or less remote from large centres of population, settled 
where the presence of Quakers, Wesleyan Methodists, Cove- 
nanters or Free Presbyterians gave them the assurance of 
safety and assistance ; and some, after a severe experience of 
pioneer life in the woods of Canada, preferred to run their 
chances on the southern shores of the lakes, where it was 
easier to gain a livelihood, and whence escape could be made 
across the line at the first intimation of danger. 

As one would suppose, it is impossible to determine with 
any accuracy how many fugitive settlers there were in the 
North at any particular time. Estimates both local and 
general in character have come down to us, and, naturally 
enough, one is inclined to attach greater value to the former 
than to the latter, on the score of probable correctness, but 
here the investigator is met by the extreme paucity of ex- 
amples, which, as it happens, are confined to two towns in 
eastern Massachusetts, namely, Boston and New Bedford. 
In October, 1850, the Rev. Theodore Parker stated publicly 
that there were in Boston from four hundred to six hun- 
dred fugitives.^ Concerning the refugee population of New 
Bedford our information is much less definite, for it is 

1 Chronotype, Oct. 7, 1850. 


reported that in that place there were between six hundred 
and seven hundred colored citizens, many of whom were 
fugitives.^ Neyertheless one cannot doubt that the repre- 
sentatives of this class were numerous and widely scattered 
throughout the whole territory of the free zone, for refer- 
ence is made by many surviving abolitionists not only to 
individual refugees or single families of refugees that dwelt 
in their neighborhood, but even to settlements a considerable 
part of whose people were runaway slaves. Where condi- 
tions were peculiarly favorable it was not an unknown thing 
for runaways to conclude their journeys when scarcely more 
than within the borders of free territory. The Rev. Thomas 
C. Oliver, of Windsor, Canada, is authority for the state- 
ment that fugitive settlers swarmed among their Quaker 
protectors at Greenwich, New Jersey, on the very edge of 
a slave state. ^ In communities situated at greater distance 
from the sectional line, like Columbus^ and Akron,* Ohio, 
Elmira^ and Buffalo,^ New York, and Detroit, Michigan, 
many fugitives are known to have lived. The Rev. Calvin 
Fairbank relates that, while visiting Detroit in 1849, he dis- 
covered several families he had helped from slavery living 
near the city. He went to see these families, and afterward 
wrote concerning them : " Living near the Johnsons, and 
like them contented and comfortable, I found the Stewart 
and Coleman families, for whom I had also lighted the path 
of freedom."^ In the vicinity of Sandy Lake, in the north- 
western part of Pennsylvania, there was a colony of colored 
people, most of whom were runaway slaves.^ 

Such evidence, which is local in its nature, should be con- 
sidered in conjunction with the general estimates of those 
persons that expressed opinions after wide observation in 
regard to the whole number of fugitive settlers in the North. 

1 Clipping from the Commonwealth, preserved in a scrap-book relating to 
Theodore Parker, Boston Public Library. 

2 Conversation with Mr. Oliver, Windsor, Ont., Aug. 2, 1895. 

' Conversation with the Rev. James Poindexter, Columbus, O., summer 
of 1895. * History of Summit County, Ohio, pp. 579, 580. 

^ Letters of Mrs. Susan L. Crane, Elmira, N.Y. 

6 See p. 250, this chapter. ' The Chicago Tribune, Jan. 29, 1893. 

8 Letter of John F. Hogue, Greenville, Pa., Nov. 25, 1895. 


The most indefinite of these contemporary opinions is that 
of the veteran underground helper, Samuel J. May, who 
states that "hundreds ventured to remain this side of the 
Lakes." ^ Other judges attempt to put their estimates into 
figures ; thus, Henry "Wilson thinks that by 1850 twenty 
thousand had found homes in the free states ; ^ Mr. Franklin 
B. Sanborn, admitting the inherent difficulty of the calcula- 
tion, places the number at from twenty-five thousand to fifty 
thousand; ^ and the Canadian refugee, Josiah Henson, wrote 
in 1852 : " It is estimated that the number of fugitive slaves 
in the various free states . . . amounts to 50,000."* 

Fugitives that thus dwelt in the Northern states for a 
longer or shorter period did so at their own risk, and in 
general against the advice of their helpers. Their reliance 
for safety was altogether upon their own wariness and the 
public sentiment of the communities where they lived, and 
until slavery perished in the Civil War they were subjected 
to the fear of surprise and seizure'^ The Southern people 
apparently regarded their right to recover their escaped 
slaves as unquestionable as their right to reclaim their 
strayed cattle, and they were determined to have the former 
as freely and fully recognized in the North as the latter ; ^ 
and it might be added that there were not a few people in the 
North quite willing to admit the slaveholder's right freely 
to reclaim his human property, and to aid him in doing so. 
What the sentiment was that prevailed in the North during 
the twenties and thirties of the present century is evidenced 
in certain laws enacted by the legislatures of some of the 
states in line with the Federal Slave Law of 1793. Thus, in 
an act passed by the assembly of Pennsylvania, March 25, 
1826, provision was made for the issuance by courts of 
record of the commonwealth of certificates or warrants 

^ Some Secollections of our Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 297. 

= Bise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. II, p. 304 ; see also E. B. 
Andrews' History of the United States, Vol. II, p. .36. 

'Conversation with Mr. Sanborn, Cambridge, Mass., March, 1897. 

* The Life of Josiah Benson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Himself, 
p. 97. 

'James H. Fairchild, The Underground Railroad, Tract No. 87, in 
Vol. rv, Western Reserve Historical Society, p. 106. 


of removal for negroes or mulattoes, claimed to be fugi- 
tives from labor ; ^ and in a law enacted by the legislature 
of Ohio, February 26, 1839, it was provided that any justice 
of the peace, judge of a court of record, or mayor should 
authorize the arrest of a person claimed as a fugitive slave 
on the affidavit of the claimant or his agent, and that the 
judge of a court of record before whom the fugitive was 
brought should grant a certificate of removal upon the 
presentation of satisfactory proof.^ 

Among those that paid homage to such laws as these, and 
thus made the North an unsafe refuge for slaves, were to be 
found representatives of all classes of society. Samuel J. 
May opens to view the convictions of some of the most 
cultured people of his day by the following incidents related 
concerning two well-known New England clergymen. " The 
excellent Dr. E. S. Gannett, of Boston, was heard to say, 
more than once, very emphatically, and to justify it, ' that 
he should feel it to be his duty to turn away from his door 
a fugitive slave, — unfed, unaided in any way, rather than 
set at naught the law of the land.' 

" And Rev. Dr. Dewey, whom we accounted one of the 
ablest expounders and most eloquent defenders of our Uni- 
tarian faith, — Dr. Dewey was reported to have said at two 
different times, in public lectures or speeches during the 
fall of 1850 and the winter of 1851, that ' he would send his 
mother into slavery, rather than endanger the Union, by re- 
sisting this law enacted by the constituted government of 
the nation.' He has often denied that he spoke thus of his 
'maternal relative,' and therefore I allow that he was misun- 
derstood. But he has repeatedly acknowledged that he did 
say, ' I would consent that my own brother, my own son, 
should go, ten times rather would I go myself into slavery, 
than that this Union should be sacrificed.' " ^ After the 
occurrence of the famous Jerry rescue at Syracuse, October 
1, 1851, many newspapers representing both political parties 

1 G. M. Stroud, A Sketch of the Laws Belating to Slavery, 2d ed., 1856, 
pp. 281, 282. 

' Statutes of the State of Ohio, 1841, collated by J. R. Swan, pp. 595-600. 
' Some BecoUections of our Anti-SlavetT/ Conflict, p. 367. 


emphatically condemned the successful resistance made to 
the law by the abolitionists as " a disgraceful, demoralizing 
and alarming act." ^ 

There were not wanting in almost every community mem- 
bers of the shiftless class of society that were always ready 
to obstruct the passage of fugitive slaves to the North, and 
whose most vigorous exercise was taken in the course of 
some slave-hunting adventure. The Rev. W. M. Mitchell, 
who had had this class to contend with in the performance 
of his underground work during a number of years in Ohio, 
characterized it in a description, penned in 1860, in which 
he sets forth one of the conditions that made the Northern 
states an unsafe refuge for self -liberated negroes. "The 
progress of the Slave," he wrote, " is very much impeded by 
a class of men in the Northern States who are too lazy to 
work at respectable occupations to obtain an honest living, 
but prefer to obtain it, if possible, whether honestly or dis- 
honestly, by tracking runaway slaves. On seeing advertise- 
ments in the newspapers of escaped slaves, with rewards 
offered, they, armed to the teeth, saunter in and through 
Abolition Communities or towns, where they are likely to 
find the object of their pursuit. They sometimes watch the 
houses of known Abolitionists. . . . We are hereby warned, 
and for our own safety and that of the Slave, we act with 
excessive caution. The first discoverer of these bloody 
rebels communicates their presence to others of our com- 
pany, that the entire band in that locality is put on their 
guard. If the slave has not reached us, we are on the look- 
out, with greater anxiety than the hunters, for the fugitive, 
to prevent his falling into the possession of those demons 
in human shape. On the other hand should the Slave be so 
fortunate as to be in our possession at the time, we are com- 
pelled to keep very quiet, until the hunter loses all hopes of 
finding him, therefore gives up the search as a bad job, or 

1 Some Recollections of Our Anti- Slavery Conflict, p. 380. The newspa- 
pers named by Mr. May are, The Advertiser and The American of Rochester, 
The Gazette and Observer of Utica, The Oneida Whig, The Begister, The 
Argus and The Express of Albany, The Courier and Inquirer and The 
Express of New York. 


moves on to another Abolition Community, which gives us 
an opportunity of removing the Fugitive further from danger, 
or sending him towards the North Star. . . ."^ 

It is not to be supposed, of course, that the business of 
slave-hunting was carried on mainly by the persons here 
described in such uncomplimentary terms. Persons of this 
type contented themselves generally, no doubt, with acting as 
spies and informers, and rarely engaged in the excitement of 
a slave-hunt except as the aids of Southern planters or their 
agents. If it is true that there was a sentiment averse to sla- 
very prevailing through many years in the North, it is also true 
that the residents of the free states for the most part con- 
ceded the right of Southerners to pursue and recover their 
fugitives without hindrance from their Northern neighbors. 
The free states thus became what the abolitionists called 
the " hunting-ground " of the South, and as early as 1830 or 
1835 the pursuit of slaves began to attract wide attention. 
During the years following many localities, especially in the 
middle states, were visited from time to time by parties on 
the trail of the fleeing bondman, or seeking out the secluded 
home of some self-freed slave ; and after the enactment of 
the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 Southerners became more 
energetic than before in pushing the search for their escaped 
chattels. It has been recorded that "more than two hundred 
arrests of persons claimed as fugitives were made from the 
[ time of the passage of the Bill to the middle of 1856. About 
a dozen of these were free persons, who succeeded in estab- 
lishing the claim that they never had been slaves ; other 
persons, equally free, were carried off. Half a dozen rescues 
were made, and the rest of these cases were delivered to their 
owners. These arrests took place more frequently in Penn- 
sylvania than in any other Northern state. Many fugitives 
were caught and carried back, of whom we have no accounts, 
save that they were seen on the deck of some river steamboat, 
in the custody of their owners, without even passing through 
the formality of appearing before a commissioner. About two- 
thirds of the persons arrested as above had trials. When the 
arrests to the number of two hundred, at least, can be traced, 

1 The Underground Bailroad, pp. 13, 14. 


and their dates fixed, during six years, we may suppose that 
the Bill was not, as some politicians averred, practically of 
little consequence."^ 

Concerniug the efficiency of the new law there is a differ- 
ence of opinion among the contemporary writers that com- 
mented upon it ; but there could be no disagreement as to 
the distress into which it plunged some of the refugees long 
resident in the free states. In not a few instances these 
persons had married, acquired homes, and were rearing their 
families in peace and happiness. Under the Fugitive Slave 
Act some of these settlers were seized upon the affidavit 
of their former owners, and with the sanction of the federal 
authority were carried back into slavery. Among the many 
cases that might be cited the following will serve to illus- 
trate the misfortunes ever ready to be precipitated upon 
fugitive settlers in the Northern states. In 1851 John 
Bolding, claimed as the property of a citizen of Columbia, 
South Carolina, was arrested in Poughkeepsie, New York, 
and taken back to the South. Bolding was a young man 
of good character, recently married, and the possessor of 
a small tailor shop in Poughkeepsie.^ In August, 1853, 
George Washington McQuerry,of Cincinnati, was remanded 
to slavery in Kentucky. He had lived several years in Ohio, 
had married a free woman, and they had three children.^ 
In September, 1853, a family of colored persons at Union- 
town, Pennsylvania, were claimed as slaves by a Virginian. 
Their statement that they had been permitted by their mas- 
ter to visit friends in Fayette County did not prevent their 
immediate restoration to him.* In May, 1857, Addison White, 
a runaway from Kentucky, was found living near Mechan- 
icsburg, Ohio, where he had been at work about six months 
earning means to send for his wife and children. Some of 
the abolitionists of the neighborhood prevented his reclama- 
tion.^ In three of these cases at least the reenslavement of 
the refugees was prevented by an abolition sentiment locally 

1 Weiss, Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker, Vol. II, p. 93. 
* The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims, by Samuel May, Jr., 1861, p. 19. 
» Ibid., p. 31. See Appendix B, p. 374. * Ibid., p. 68 et seq. 

' See Appendix B, p. 375. 


strong enough to lead to the purchase of the slaves from 
their claimants ; but it is noteworthy that public opinion in 
the neighborhoods where these runaways lived was unable 
to shield them from capture. 

The refugees that preferred to settle in the Northern 
states rather than in Canada naturally made homes for 
themselves in anti-slavery communities among tried friends. 
Here they could rest with some assurance upon the benevo- 
lence of these localities and feel safe, although their liberty 
was still in danger. A slave-hunter in entering such neigh- 
borhoods was obliged to move with great caution; he was in 
the midst of strangers, with few allies, and his scheme was 
likely to fail if his presence became known. Sometimes, 
when he was in the very act of leading the captive back to 
the South in bonds, he would find his progress interrupted 
by a crowd, his authority questioned, his return to the office 
of a magistrate insisted upon, and ultimately, perhaps, his 
prisoner released by a procedure more or less formal. The 
slave-hunter that incautiously flourished weapons and made 
threats was likely to be arrested and subjected to such addi- 
tional delays and inconveniences as would render his under- 
taking expensive as well as vexatious. There can be no 
doubt that this was the experience of many slave-owners 
that sought to recover their servants in the free states. Mr. 
Clay touched on this point, April 22, 1850, in presenting 
petitions to the United States Senate from four citizens of 
Kentucky. These persons, he said, " state that each of them 
has lost a slave. . . . That these slaves have taken refuge 
in the state of Ohio, and that it is in vain for them to at- 
tempt to recapture them ; that they cannot go there and 
attempt to recover their property without imminent hazard to 
their lives." ^ This statement, reiterating the idea contained 
in the petitions themselves, namely, that the danger attend- 
ing pursuit was great, is too strong in reference to a large 
number of the abolition communities in the Northern states, 
in many of which non-resistance principles were advocated. 
At the same time it must be remembered that the usual 
methods of slave-catchers were not conciliatory to the people 

^ Congressional Globe, New Series, Vol, XKII, Part I, p, 793. 


among whom they went, and that their bravado sometimes 
secured for them rough treatment at the hands of a mob, 
especially if the number of colored people present was large 
enough to warrant their venting their outraged feelings. 

The difficulty of recovering slave property in the North 
had been considerable for some years, and it was steadily 
growing greater. The uncertainty of reclamation in the 
large number of cases made the whole business unprofitable 
and undesirable for slave-owners. A writer in the North 
American Review for July, 1850, says, " Though thousands of 
slaves have escaped by crossing the Ohio River, or Mason 
and Dixon's line, during the last five years, no attempt has 
been made to reclaim them in more than one case out of a 
thousand." ^ If one takes this statement as meant to con- 
vey merely the idea that the number of pursuits was ex- 
tremely small in proportion to the number of escapes there 
will be no difficulty in accepting it, for probably this was the 
fact down to 1850 ; and the explanation of it, so far as can 
be gathered from the lips of Southern men, is to be found 
in the strong probability of failure in undertaking these 
costly enterprises. Thus Mr. Mason, of Virginia, in his 
argument in favor of a new fugitive slave law, declared that, 
imder the existing conditions, " you may as well go down 
into the sea and endeavor to recover from his native element a 
fish which has escaped from you, as expect to recover a . . . 
fugitive. Every difficulty is throvra in your way by the 
population. . . . There are armed mobs, rescues. This is 
the real state of things."^ 

^The law of 1850 was intended to remove the occasion for 
such complaints on the part of slaveholders, and secure 
them in the recovery and possession of their property. The 
effect of its provisions upon the South was to arouse slave- 
owners to greater activity in the pursuit of their chattels, 
while in the North the effect was to increase greatly the 
determination in the minds of many to resist the enforce- 
ment of the law. Despite the severe penalties it levelled 

1 F. Bowen on " Extradition of Fugitive Slaves," Vol. LXXI, p. 252 et seq. 
2 Congressional Globe, Thirty-first Congress, First Session, p. 1583 ; also 
M. 6. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 31. 


against those that should be guilty of shielding the refugee, 
the expression of sympathy for fugitive settlers was open 
and hearty in many quarters ; and public meetings were held 
by abolitionists to proclaim defiance to the law and protection 
to the fugitive. At Lowell, Massachusetts, an immense Free 
Soil meeting adopted resolutions inviting former residents 
of the city to return from Canada, where they had taken 
refuge ; ^ at Syracuse, New York, a gathering of all parties de- 
clared its abhorrence of the Fugitive Slave Law, and formed 
an association or vigilance committee " so that the Southern 
oppressors may know that the people of Syracuse and its 
vicinity are prepared to sustain one another in resisting the 
encroachments of despotism ";2 at Boston an indignation 
meeting was held " for the denunciation of the law and the 
expression of sympathy and cooperation with the fugitive." 
Among the resolutions adopted at this meeting, one advised 
" the fugitive slaves and colored inhabitants of Boston and 
the neighborhood to remain with us, for we have not the 
smallest fear that any one of them will be taken from us 
and carried off to bondage ; and we trust that such as have 
fled in fear will return to their business and homes " ; 
another resolution proposed the appointment of a vigilance 
committee "to secure the fugitives and colored inhabitants 
of Boston and vicinity from any invasion of their rights 
by persons acting under the law." ^ In Ashtabula County, 
Ohio, a meeting at Hartsgrove resolved, " that we hold the 
Fugitive Slave Law in utter contempt . . . and that we will 
not aid in catching the fugitive, but will feed him, and pro- 
tect him with all the means in our power, and that we will 
pledge our sympathy and property for the relief of any per- 
son in our midst who may suffer any penalties for an honor- 
able opposition ... to the requirements of this law." * In 
other portions also of the free states meetings were held in 
which the purpose was avowed to protect fugitive slaves.^ 

1 Wilson, Mise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. II, p. 306. 

2 Samuel J. May, Some Becollections of Our Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 353. 
' John Weiss, Life and Correspondence, of Theodore Parker, Vol. II, p. 94. 
* Article by the Rev. S. D. Peet, in History of Ashtabula County, Ohio, 

pp. 33, 34. 

t " No sooner was the deed done, the Fugitive Slave Act sent forth to be 


The change of sentiment in the North from passive ac- 
quiescence in the law to active resistance to it is best seen, 
perhaps, in the history of the so-called personal liberty laws. 
The real object of these statutes was to impair the operation 
of the national Fugitive Slave Law, although their proposed 
object was in most cases to prevent the removal of free 
colored citizens to the South under the claim that they were 
fugitive slaves. These statutes were passed by the legis- 
latures of various states during the period of a little more 
than thirty years from 1824 to 1858, the greater number 
being enacted after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
in 1854. The first two in the series were those enacted by 
Indiana and Connecticut in 1824 and 1838 respectively, and 
provided that on appeal fugitives might have a trial by jury. 
In 1840 Vermont and New York framed laws granting jury 
trial, and also providing attorneys to defend fugitives. In 
1842 the Prigg decision gave the occasion for a new class of 
statutes ; the release of state authorities from the execution 
of the Slave Law by the opinion handed down by Justice 
Story was taken advantage of in Massachusetts, Vermont, 
Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, and the officers of the states 
were forbidden from performing the duties imposed by the 
law of 1793. The decade from 1850 to 1860 is marked by a 
fresh crop of these personal liberty acts, due to the sentiment 
aroused by the law of 1850 and aggravated by the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise. As the new national law avoided 
the employment of state officers, state legislation was now 
directed in the main to limiting the powers of the executors 
of the laws as far as possible, and depriving them of the 
facilities of action. Thus, the new laws generally provided 
counsel for any one arrested as a fugitive ; secured to him a 
trial surrounded by the usual safeguards ; prohibited the use 
of state jails ; and forbade state officers to issue writs or give 
aid to the claimant. The penalty for the violation of these 

the law of the land, than outcries of contempt and defiance came from every 
free state, and pledges of protection were given to the colored population. 
It is not within the scope of my plan to attempt an account of the indigna- 
tion meetings that were held in places too numerous to be even mentioned 
here." S. J. May, Some Becollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 349. 


provisions was a heavy fine and imprisonment. " Sucli acts," 
it is said, " were passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode 
Island, in Massachusetts, Michigan and Maine. Later, laws 
were also enacted in Wisconsin, Kansas, Ohio and Pennsyl- 
vania. Of the other Northern States, two only. New Jersey 
and California, gave any official sanction to the rendition of 
fugitives. In New Hampshire, New York, Indiana, Illinois, 
Iowa and Miiinesota, however, no full personal liberty laws 
were passed." ^ 

Notwithstanding the disposition shown in many parts of 
the free states to protect fugitive settlers, the Slave Law of 
1850 spread consternation and distress among them, and 
caused numbers to leave the little homes they had estab- 
lished for themselves, and renew their search for liberty. 
Perhaps in no community of the North did fugitive settlers 
feel themselves more secure than in Boston, the city of 
Garrison, Phillips and Parker ; here they were gathered to- 
gether by the Rev. Leonard B. Grimes, a colored man, who 
soon organized a church of fugitive slaves, and such was the 
feeling of confidence among them that in 1849 a building 
was begun for this unique congregation. Within a few 
months, however, the new Slave Law was enacted, and wrung 
from this band of runaways a cry of anguish that may be 
justly regarded as expressing the distress of the people of 
this class in all quarters of the free states. At a meeting 
of the Boston refugees, held October 5, 1850, an appeal to 
the clergy of Massachusetts was issued, in the preamble of 
which was embodied the slaves' view of their own situation, 
and their pitiful entreaty for help. As "trembling, pro- 
scribed and hunted fugitives . . now scattered through 
the various towns and villages of Massachusetts, and mo- 
mentarily liable to be seized by the strong arm of govern- 
ment, and hurried back to stripes, tortures and bondage 
. . ." they implored the clergy to '"lift up (their) voices 
like a trumpet' against the Fugitive Slave Bill, recently 
adopted by Congress. . . ."^ The church building of the 

1 M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 65-70, and the references there given. 
" Scrap-book of clippings, circulars, etc., presented to the Boston Public 
Library by Mrs. L. D. Parker. 


fugitive settlers " was arrested midway towards its comple- 
tion, and the members were scattered in wild dismay. More 
than forty fled to Canada. One of their number, Shadrach, 
was seized, but more fortunate than the hapless Sims, who 
had no fellowship with them, he succeeded in making his 
escape."^ An individual case that illustrates the sudden 
disaster experienced by niunerous households throughout the 
North was recorded by the Rev. J. S. C. Abbott, in January, 
1852. The case occurred in Boston in 1851 : " A colored 
girl, eighteen years of age, a few years ago escaped from 
slavery at the South. Through scenes of adventure and 
peril she found her way to Boston, obtained employment, 
secured friends, and became a consistent member of a Meth- 
odist church. She became interested in a very worthy 
young man, of her own complexion, who was a member of 
the same chiirch. They were soon married. Their home, 
though humble, was the abode of piety and contentment. 
. . . Seven years passed away ; they had two little boys, 
one six and the other four years of age. These children, the 
sons of a free father, but of a mother who had been a slave, 
by the laws of our Southern states were doomed to their 
mother's fate. These Boston boys, born beneath the shadow 
of Faneuil Hall, the sons of a free citizen of Boston, and 
educated in the Boston free schools, were, by the com- 
promises of the Constitution, admitted to be slaves, the 
property of a South Carolinian planter. The Boston father 
had no right to his own sons. The law, however, had long 
been considered a dead letter. The Christian mother, as she 
morning and evening bowed with her children in prayer, felt 
that they were safe from the slave-hunter, surrounded as 
they were by the churches, the schools, and the free institu- 
tions of Massachusetts. 

" The Fugitive Slave Law was enacted. It revived the 
hopes of the slave-owners. A young, healthy, energetic 
mother, with two fine boys, was a rich prize. . . . Good 
men began to say : ' We must enforce this law ; it is one of 
the compromises of the Constitution.' Christian ministers 
began to preach: 'The voice of the law is the voice of God. 
1 C. E. Stevens, Anthony Burns, A History, 1856, p. 208. 


There is no higher rule of duty.' . . . The poor woman 
was panic-stricken. Her friends gathered around her and 
trembled for her. Her husband was absent from home, a 
seaman on board one of our Liverpool packets. She was 
afraid to get out of doors lest some one from the South 
should see her and recognize her. One day, as she was 
going to the grocery for some provisions, her quick and 
anxious eye caught a glimpse of a man prowling around, 
whom she immediately recognized as from the vicinity of 
her old home of slavery. Almost fainting with terror, she 
hastened home, and, taking her two children by the hand, 
fled to the house of a friend. She and her trembling chil- 
dren were hid in the garret. In less than one hour after her 
escape, the officer with a writ came for her arrest. 

"... At midnight, her friends took her in a hack, and 
conveyed her, with her children, to the house of her pastor. 
A prayer-meeting had been appointed there, at that hour, in 
behalf of the suffering sister. A small group of stricken 
hearts were assembled. . . . Groanings and lamentations 
filled the room. No one could pray. . . . Other fugitives 
were there, trembling in view of a doom more dreadful to 
them than death. After an hour of weeping . . . they 
took this Christian mother and her children in a hack, and 
conveyed them to one of the Cunard steamers, which for- 
tunately was to sail for Halifax the next day. . . . Her 
brethren and sisters of the church raised a little money from 
their scanty means to pay her passage, and to save her for a 
few days from starving, after her first arrival in the cold land 
of strangers. Her husband soon returned to Boston, to find 
his home desolate, his wife and his children exiles in a 
foreign land. 

" I think that this narrative may be relied upon as accu- 
rate. I received the facts from the lips of one, a member of 
the church, who was present at that midnight 'weeping- 
meeting,' before the Lord. Such is slavery in Boston, in the 
year 1852. Has the North nothing to do with slavery ? " ^ 

1 Quoted by ¥. B. Sanborn, in his Life of Dr. S. G-. Howe, the Philan- 
thropist, pp. 237, 238, 239. Similar stories are related by Lydia Maria Child, 
in her Life of Isaac T. Hopper, pp. 455-458. 


In localities nearer to slave territory than Boston, and in 
places where anti-slavery sentiment was perhaps less pro- 
nounced, it may be supposed that terror was not less preva- 
lent among fugitive settlers. The members of the colored 
community near Sandy Lake in northwestern Pennsylvania, 
many of whom had purchased small farms and had them 
partly paid for, sold out or gave away their farms and 
went to Canada in a body.^ The sudden disappearance of 
refugees from their habitations in various other places as 
soon as the character of the new law became noised abroad 
was a phenomenon the cause of which was unmistakable. 
Of the many that thus vanished from their accustomed 
haunts,^ Josiah Henson, writing in 1852, said : " Some have 
found their way to England, but the mass are flying to Can- 
ada, where they feel themselves secure. Already several 
thousands have gone thither, and have added considerably 
to the number already settled, or partially settled, in that 
part of the British dominions. . . ."^ As Mr. Henson was 
a worker among the refugees in Canada he was in a position 
to speak from his personal knowledge, and his testimony is sus- 
tained by that of the Rev. Anthony Bingey, an escaped slave, 
who helped receive fugitives at Amherstburg, Ontario, one 
of the chief landing-places of the negro emigrants from the 
United States. jNIr. Biugey states that after the Fugitive 
Slave Law took effect the runaways came there " by fifties 
every day, like frogs in Egypt." Before that time "many 
had settled in the States, but after the Fugitive Slave Law 
they could be taken, so they came in from all parts." * Sumner 
estimated that, altogether, " as many as six thousand Chris- 
tian men and women, meritorious persons, — a larger hand 
than that of the escaping Puritans, — precipitately fled from 
homes which they had established" to British soil. The 
Liberator published a statement, made in February, 1851, 

1 Letter of John F. Hogue, Greenville, Pa., Nov. 25, 1895; letter of the 
Rev. James Lawson, Franklin, Pa., Nov. 25, 1895. 

2 Life of William Lloyd Garrison, Vol. IH, p. 302. See also Ehodes's 
Sistory of the United States, Vol. I, p. 198. 

' The Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a Slave, as narrated by Himself, 
pp. 97, 98, 99. 

* Conversation with Mr. Bingey, Windsor, Ont. , July 31, 1896. 


that the African Methodist and Baptist churches of Buffalo, 
New York, had both lost a large number of members, the 
loss of the former being given as one hundred. The Baptist 
church of the colored people of Rochester, in the same state, 
out of a membership of one hundred and fourteen, lost one 
hundred and twelve, including the pastor. The African 
Baptist church of Detroit lost eighty-four members at this 

One must not imagine, however, that all the fugitives 
migrated beyond the borders of the free states. No doubt 
a considerable number, more daring than the rest,^ or in 
some way favored by circumstances, chose to remain and 
run the risk of discovery. Colonel Thomas Wentworth Hig- 
ginson asserts that " For many years fugitive slaves came to 
Massachusetts and remained, this lasting until the Fugitive 
Slave Law was passed in 1850, and longer. Even after that 
period we tried to keep them in Worcester, where I then 
lived, it being a strong anti-slavery place, and they often 
stayed." ^ Some of the fugitives that were induced to move 
by the Slave Law only passed from one state into another, 
instead of continuing their journey to regions beyond the 
jurisdiction of a United States commissioner. Of a company 
of blacks dwelling near the home of Elijah F. Pennypacker 
in Chester County, Pennsylvania, at the time of the enact- 
ment of the law of 1850, it is said that while some went to 
Canada, some went to New York and some to Massachu- 
setts.* It was noted above that the new church of the fugi- 
tives of Boston was stopped midway in the process of building 
by the promulgation of the act, but it is significant that the 
structure was completed soon after. Evidently not all of 
the refugees departed from the city of their adoption. It is 
related that " When the first fury of the storm had blown over, 
Mr. Grimes set himself with redoubled energy to repair the 

1 Life of Garrison, Vol. Ill, p. 302 ; also foot-note, pp. 302, 303. 

2 ' ' Some of the boldest chose to remain, and armed themselves to defend 
their freedom, instinctively calculating that the sight of such an exigency 
would make the Northern heart beat too rapidly for prudence I " Weiss, 
Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker, Vol. II, p. 92. 

3 Letter of Mr. Higginson, Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 5, 1894. 

* R. C. Smedley, History of the Underground Railroad, p. 210. 


wastes that liad been made. He collected money from the 
charitable, and purchased the members of his church out of 
slavery, that they might return without fear to the fold. 
He made friends among the rich, who advanced funds for 
the completion of his church. At length it was finished, 
and, as if for an omen of good, was dedicated on the first day 
when Burns stood for trial before Commissioner Loring. " ^ 
Runaways entering the free states for the first time after 
the subsidence of the paroxysm of fear among their fellows 
sometimes remained in neighborhoods where the conditions 
were supposed to be favorable to their safety. Some of 
these were never disturbed, and consequently never went to 
Canada at all. 

Among the fugitive settlers in the Northern states there 
were some at least that became widely known among aboli- 
tionists and others as active agents of the Underground 
Railroad. Frederick Douglass was one of these, and during 
his residence in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and later dur- 
ing his residence in Rochester, New York, he was able to - 
help many runaways. The Rev. J. W. Loguen, who be- 
came a bishop of the African Methodist Church about 1869, 
settled in Syracuse, New York, in 1841, and became imme- 
diately one of the managers of secret operations there. In 
his hospitable home, Samuel J. May relates, was fitted up 
an apartment for fugitive slaves, and,''for years before the 
Emancipation Act, scarcely a week passed without some one, 
in his flight from slavedom to Canada, enjoyed shelter and 
repose at Elder Loguen's."^ Lewis Hayden, for many 
years a prominent citizen of Boston, who owed his liberty 
to the self-sacrificing efforts of the Rev. Calvin Fairbank 
and j\Iiss Delia Webster in September, 1844,^ made a prac- 
tice of harboring slaves in his house, number 66 Phillips 

1 C. E. Stevens, Anthony Burns, A History, p. 208. In a foot-note it is 
said, " The chnrch is a neat and commodious brick structure, two stories in 
heiglit, and handsomely finished in the interior. It will seat five or six 
hundred people. The whole cost, including the land, was $13,000, of 
which, through the exertion of Mr. Grimes, $10,000 have already (1866) 
been paid. ..." 

" Some Becollections of our Anti-Slavery Conflict, pp. 202, 203. 

» Sev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times, pp. 46, 48, 49. 


Street. " Some there are," a recent writer declares, " who 
well remember when William Craft was in hiding here from 
the slave-catchers, and how Lewis Hayden had placed two 
kegs of gunpowder on the premises, resolved to blow up 
his house rather than surrender the fugitive. The heroic 
frenzy of the resolute black face, as with match in hand 
Hayden stood waiting the man-stealers, those who saw it 
declare that they can never forget."^ 

William Wells Brown, who distinguished himself as an 
anti-slavery lecturer in this country and England, rendered 
considerable service to fellow-fugitives shortly after his 
escape from Missouri about 1840.^ Securing employment on 
a Lake Erie steamboat, he was able to provide the means of 
transportation for many runaways across the lake. As the 
boat frequently touched at Cleveland on its trips to and fro 
between Buffalo and Detroit, Mr. Brown made an arrange- 
ment with some Cleveland friends to furnish transportation, 
which was done without charge, for any negroes they might 
wish to send to Canada. The result was that delegations 
of anxious refugees were often taken aboard at the Cleve- 
land wharf. Brown engaged in this service in the early 
forties, and his companies were therefore small, but he 
sometimes gave passage to four or five at one time. " In 
the year 1842," he says, " I conveyed, from the first of May 
to the first of December, sixty-nine fugitives over Lake Erie 
to Canada. In 1843 I visited Maiden, in upper Canada, 
and counted seventeen in that small village whom I had 
assisted in reaching Canada." ^ John W. Jones, a respected 
citizen of Elmira, New York, made his way in 1844 from 
Virginia to the city where he still lives. During the follow- 
ing year he succeeded in aiding two younger brothers to 
join him, and thereafter he continued, in cooperation with 
Mr. Jervis Langdon and other abolitionists of Elmira, to 
succor his brethren in their search for places of refuge. 
After the construction of the Northern Central Railroad 

1 Article by A. H. Grimk^, on "Anti-Slavery Boston," in The New Eng- 
land, Magazine, December, 1890, p. 458. 

^ S. J. May, Some HecoUections of our Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 289. 

2 Narrative of William W- Brown, A Fugitive Slave, pp. 106, 107, 108. 


through Elmira, Mr. Jones effected an arrangement with 
some of the employees of that road by which his friends 
could be carried through to the Canadian border in baggage- 
cars. At the same time he was in regular correspondence 
with William Still, the agent of the central underground 
station at Philadelphia, who frequently sent him companies 
of passengers requiring immediate transportation. ^ John 
H. Hooper, a fugitive from the Eastern Shore of Maryland 
and an acquaintance there of Fred Douglass, kept a station 
at Troy, New York, where he settled.^ Louis Washington, 
who fled from Richmond, Virginia, to Columbus, Ohio, be- 
came a conductor of the Underground Road at that point. 
Mr. James Poindexter, a well-known colored clergyman of 
Columbus, knew Washington intimately, and testifies that 
he had teams and wagons with which he conveyed the mid- 
night pilgrims on their way.* There are other cases of 
fugitive settlers that became members of the large company 
of underground operators. But a sufficient number have 
been mentioned to indicate that they were not rare. The 
first and the last of the seven named did not continue long 
in the status of escaped slaves. Frederick Douglass secured 
his liberty in a legal way through the payment by English 
friends of the sum of $750 to his master. Louis Washing- 
ton purchased his own freedom. The other five, so far as 
known, were never relieved by the payment of money from 
the claims of their masters. Most, if not all, of these men 
remained in the Northern states after the passage of the 
Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. 

1 Letters of Mrs. Susan Crane, Elmira, N.T. ; letters of John W. Jones, 
Elmira, N.Y. ; see also StiU, Underground Railroad Records, p. 530. 

2 Letters of Mr. Martin L Townsend, Troy. N.Y., Sept. 4, 1896, and 
April 3, 1897. 

° Conversation with Mr. Poindexter, Columbus, C, in the summer of 1895. 



The aversion to a law for the rendition of fugitive slaves 
that early manifested itself in the North was perhaps fore- 
shadowed in the hesitating manner in- which the question was 
dealt with by Congress. The original demand for legislation 
was caused by the activity of kidnappers in Pennsylvania ; but 
the first bill, reported from committee to the House in Novem- 
ber, 1791, was dropped for some reason not now discoverable. 
At the end of March in the following year a committee 
of the Senate was appointed to consider the matter, but it 
accomplished nothing. At the beginning of the next session 
a second Senate committee was chosen, and from this body a 
bill emanated. This bill proved to be unsatisfactory, how- 
ever, and after the committee had been remodelled by the 
addition of two new members the bill was recommitted with 
instructions to amend. With some slight change the measure 
proposed by the committee was adopted by the Senate, Jan- 
uary 18 ; and after an interval of nearly three weeks the 
House passed it with little or no debate, by a vote of forty- 
eight to seven. Thus for nearly a year and a quarter the 
subject was under the consideration of Congress before it 
could be embodied in a bill and sent to the executive for 
his signature. On February 12, 1793, President Washington 
signed this bill and it became a law.^ 

The object of the law was, of course, to enforce the consti- 
tutional guarantee in regard to the delivery of fugitives from 
service to their masters. An analysis of the law will show 
that forcible seizure of the alleged fugitive was authorized ; 
that the decision of the magistrate before whom he was to be 
taken was allowed to turn on the testimony of the master, or 

> M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 17, 18. 


< ? 

e8 O 

^ §.2 


the affidavit of some magistrate in tlie state from wMch he 
came ; and that trial by jury was denied. Persons attempt- 
ing to obstruct the law by harboring or concealing a fugitive 
slave, resisting his arrest, or securiug his rescue, were liable 
to a fine of five hundred dollars for the benefit of the claimant, 
and the right of action on account of these injuries was 
reserved to the claimant.^ 

The exclusive regard for the rights of the owner exhibited 
in these provisions was fitted to stir the popular sense of 
justice in the Northern states, most of which had already 
ranged themselves by individual action on the side of liberty. 
Persons moved by the appeals of the hunted negro to trans- 
gress the statute would naturally try to avoid its penalties by 
concealment of their acts, and this we know was what they 
did. The whole movement denominated the Underground 
Railroad was carried on in secret, because only thus could 
the fugitives, in whose behalf it originated, and their abettors, 
by whom it was maintained, be secure from the law. When 
through mischance or open resistance, as sonjetimes happened, 
an offender against the law was discovered and brought to 
trial, the case was not allowed to progress far before the 
Fugitive Recovery Act itself was assailed vigorously by 
the counsel for the defendant. The grounds of attack in- 
cluded the absence of provision for jury trial, the authority 
of the claimant or his agent to arrest without a warrant, the 
antagonism between state and federal legislation, the supposed 
repugnancy of the law of 1793 to the Ordinance of 1787, the 
denial of the power of Congress to legislate on the subject of 
fugitive slaves, and the question as to the responsibility for 
the execution of the law. Nearly if not all of these disputed 
points were involved in the great question as to the constitu- 
tionality of the congressional act, a question that kept work- 
ing up through the successive decisions of the courts to irritate 
and disturb the peace between the sections, that the fugitive 
clause in the federal Constitution, the act of 1793 itself, and 
the judicial affirmations f oUowing in their train were intended 
to promote. 

The omission of a provision from the law of Congress secur- 

1 Statutes at Large, 1, 302-305. 


ing trial by jury to the alleged fugitive was at once remarked 
by the friends of the bondman, and caused the law to be de- 
nounced in the court-room as worthy only of the severest 
condemnation.! As early as 1819, in the case of Wright vs. 
Deacon, tried before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, it 
was urged that the supposed fugitive was entitled to a jury 
trial, but the arguments made in support of the claim have 
not been preserved.^ The question was presented in several 
subsequent cases of importance arising under the law of 1793, 
namely, Jack vs. Martin, in 1835,^ Peter, alias Lewis Martin, 
about 1837,* and State vs. Hoppess, in 1845.^ From the 
reports of these cases one is not able to gather much in 
the way of direct statement showing what were the grounds 

1 Professor Eugene Wambaugh, of the Law School of Harvard University, 
in a letter to the author, comments as follows on the source of the injustice 
wrought by the Fugitive Slave acts : " The difficulty lay in the initial assump- 
tion that a human being can be property. Grant this assumption, and there 
follow many absurdities, among them the impossibility of framing a Fugitive 
Slave Law that shall be both logical and humane. Human beings are entitled 
to a trial of the normal sort, especially in a case involving the liability of per- 
sonal restraint. Chattels, however, are entitled to no trial at all ; and it a 
chattel be lost or stolen, the owner may retake it wherever he finds it, provided 
he commits no breach of the peace. (3 Blackstone's Commentaries, 4.) If 
slaves had been treated as ordinary chattels, there could have been no trial 
as to the ownership of them, unless, indeed, there were a dispute between 
competing claimants. There would have been, however, the fatal objection 
that thus a free man — black, mulatto, or white — might be enslaved without 
a hearing. Here, then, is a puzzle. If the man is a slave, he is entitled to 
no trial at all. If he is free, he is entitled to a trial of the most careful sort, 
surrounded with all the safeguards that have been thrown up by the law. 
When there is such a dilemma, is it strange that there should be a com- 
promise ? The Fugitive Slave Laws really were a compromise ; for in so far 
as they provided for an abnormal and incomplete trial, a hearing before a 
United States Commissioner, simply to determine rights as between the sup- 
posed slave and the supposed master, they conceded the radical impossibility 
of following out logically the supposition that human beings can be chattels, 
and, in so far as they denied to the supposed slave the normal trial, they 
assumed in advance that he was a slave. I need not vn-ite of the dilemma 
further. A procedure intermediate between a formal trial and a total denial 
of justice was probably the only solution practicable in those days ; but it 
was an illogical solution, and the only logical solution was emancipation." 

" 5 Sergeant and Bawle's Beports, 63. See Appendix B, p. 368. 

» 14 WendeWs Beports, 514. See Appendix B, p. 368. 

< In the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of 
New York. 2 Fame's Beports, 352. * 2 Western Law Journal, 282. 


taken for the advocacy of trial by jury in such cases, but 
the indications that appear are not to be mistaken. In 
all of these cases it seems to have been insisted that the law 
of 1793 failed to conform to the constitutional requirement on 
this point ; and in State vs. Hoppess it is distinctly stated 
that the law provided for a trial of the most important right 
without a jury, contrary to the amendment of the Constitu- 
tion declaring that " In suits at common law, where the 
value shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury 
shall be preserved . . .";i and that the act also authorized 
the deprivation of a person of his or her liberty contrary to 
another amendment, which declares that no person shall be 
" deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of 
law."^ In Jack vs. Martin, as probably in the other cases, 
the obvious objection seems to have been made that the de- 
nial of the jury contributed to make easy the enslavement of 
free citizens. The courts, however, did not sustain these 
objections ; thus, for example, in the last case named, Judge 
Nelson, while admitting the defect of the law, decided in 
conformity with it,^ and the claims upon the constitutional 
guarantees, asserted in behalf of the supposed fugitive, were 
also overruled, a reason given in the case of Wright vs. Deacon 
being that the evident scope and tenor of both the Constitution 
and the act of Congress favored the delivery of the fugitive 
on a summary proceeding without the delay of a formal trial 
in a court of common law. Another reason offered by the 
court in this case, and repeated by the Circuit Court of the 
United States for the Southern District of New York in 
the matter of Peter, alias Lewis Martin, was that the exami- 
nation under the federal slave law was only preliminary, its 
purpose being merely to determine the claimant's right to 
carry the fugitive back to the state whence he had fled, where 
the question of slavery would properly be open to inquiry. 

The mode of arrest permitted by the law was a cause of 
irritation to the minds of abolitionists throughout the free 
states, and became one of the points concerning which they 
joined issue in the courts. The law empowered the claimant 

1 Amendments, Article VII. ^ Ibid., Article V. 

» 12 WendelVs Beports, 315-324. 


to seize the fugitive wheresoever found for the purpose of 
taking him before an officer to prove property. The circum- 
stances that quickened the sympathy of a community into 
active resistance to this feature of the law are fully illus- 
trated in one of the earliest cases coming before a high 
court, in which the question of seizure was brought up 
for determination. The case is that of Commonwealth vs. 
Griffith, which was tried in the Supreme Judicial Court of 
Massachusetts, at the October term in 1823. From the 
record of the matter appearing in the law-books, one gathers 
that a slave, Randolph, who had fled from his master in 
Virginia, found a refuge in New Bedford about 1818, where 
by his thrift he acquired a dwelling-house. After several 
years he was discovered by Griffith, his owner's agent, and 
was seized without a warrant or other legal process, although 
the agent had taken the precaution to have a deputy sheriff 
present. The agent's intention was to take the slave before 
a magistrate for examination, pursuant to the act of 1793. ^ 
New Bedford was a Quaker town, and the slave seems not 
to have lacked friends, for the agent was at once indicted 
for assault and battery and false imprisonment. The action 
thus begun was prosecuted in the name of the state, under 
the direction of Mr. Norton, the attorney-general. As 
against the act of Congress the prosecution urged that 
the Constitution did not authorize a seizure without some 
legal process, and that such a seizure would manifestly be 
contrary to the article of the amendments of the Constitu- 
tion that asserted the right of the people to be secure in 
their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreason- 
able searches and seizures.^ The protest that if the law 
was constitutional any citizen's house might be invaded 
without a warrant under pretence that a negro was concealed 
there called forth the interesting remark from Chief Justice 
Parker that a case arising out of a constable's entering a 
citizen's house without warrant in search of a slave had 
come before him in Middlesex, and that he had held the act 
to be a trespass. Nevertheless, the court sustained the law 

^ 2 Pickering's Reports, 12. See Appendix B, p. 368. 
» Amendments, Article IV ; 2 Pickering'' s Beports, 15, 16. 


on the ground that slaTes were not parties to the Constitu- 
tion, and that the amendment referred to had relation only 
to the parties.^ 

The question of arrest without warrant emerged later in 
several other cases; for example, Johnson vs. Tompkins 
(1833),2 the matter of Peter, alias Lewis Martin (1837),3 
Prigg vs. Pennsylvania (1842),* and State vs. Hoppess 
(1845).^ The line of objection followed by those opposing 
the law in this series will be sufficiently indicated by the 
arguments presented in the Massachusetts case of 1823, 
treated above. The tribunals before which the later suits 
were brought did not depart from the precedent set in the 
early case, and the act of 1793 was invariably justified. In 
Johnson vs. Tompkins the court pointed out that under 
the law the claimant was not only free to arrest his fugitive 
without a warrant, but that he was also free to do this un- 
accompanied by any civil officer, although, as was suggested, 
it was the part of prudence to have such an officer to keep 
the peace.® In the famous case of Prigg vs. Pennsylvania, 
the Supreme Court of the United States went back of the 
law of Congress to the Constitution in seeking the source 
of the master's right of recaption, and laid down the prin- 
ciple that "under and in virtue of the Constitution, the 
owner of a slave is clothed with entire authority, in every 
state ia the Union, to seize and recapture his slave, whenever 
he can do it without any breach of the peace, or any illegal 
violence. In this sense and to this extent this clause of 
the Constitution may properly be said to execute itself, and 
to require no aid from legislation, state or national."' 

For many years before Prigg's case various states in the 
North had considered it to be within the province of their 

1 2 Pickering^s Beports, 19. 

" In the Circuit Court of tlie United States for the Eastern District of 
Pennsylvania. 1 Baldwin's Circuit Court Beports, p. 571 et seq. See Ap- 
pendix B, p. 368. « 2 Paine's Beports, 350. See Appendix B, p. 369. 

* 16 Peters' Beports, 613. 

6 2 Western Law Journal, 282. See Appendix B, p. 371. 

6 1 Baldwin's Circuit Court Beports, 571 ; Hurd, Law of Freedom and 
Bondage, Vol. II, p. 444. 

' 16 Peters' Beports, 613. 


legislative powers to enact laws dealing witli the subject of 
fugitive slaves. It would be beside our purpose to enter 
here upon an examination of these statutes, but it is proper 
to say that the variety of particulars in which these differed 
from the law concerning the same subject enacted by Con- 
gress prepared the way for a series of legal contests in regard 
to the question, whether the power to legislate in relation to 
fugitive slaves could be exercised properly by the states as 
well as by the federal government. This issue presented 
itself in at least three notable cases under the law of 1793: 
these were Jack vs. Martin (1835), Peter, alias Lewis Mar- 
tin (1837), and Prigg vs. Pennsylvania (1842). The decisions 
reached in the first and last cases are of especial significance, 
because, in the first, the question of concurrent jurisdiction 
constituted the subject of main interest for the Supreme 
Court of New York, the court to which the case had been 
taken from an inferior tribunal; while in the last case, the 
importance attaches to the conclusive character of an adjudi- 
cation pronounced by the most exalted court of the nation. 

In Jack vs. Martin the action was begun under the New 
York law of 1828 for the recovery of a fugitive from New 
Orleans. Notwithstanding the fact that this law authorized 
the seizure and return of fugitives to their owners, and that 
in the case before us, as occurred also in the case of Peter, 
alias Lewis Martin, the negro was adjudged to his claimant, 
the law of the state was considered invalid, because the right 
of legislation on the subject was held to belong exclusively 
to the national government. ^ 

In Prigg's case^ a statute of Pennsylvania, passed in 1826, 
and bearing the suggestive title, " An act to give effect to 
the provisions of the Constitution of the United States rela- 
tive to fugitives from labor, for the protection of free people 
of color, and to prevent kidnapping," was violated by Edward 
Prigg in seizing and removing a fugitive slave-woman and 
her children from York County, Pennsylvania, into Mary- 
land, where their mistress lived. In the argument made 
before the Supreme Court in support of the state law, the au- 
thority of the state to legislate was urged on the grotmd that 

1 12 Wendell's Meports, 311, 316-318. ^ gee Appendix B, p. 370. 


such authority was not prohibited to the states nor expressly 
granted "in terms " to Congress; ^ that the statute of Penn- 
sylvania had been enacted at the instance of Maryland, and 
with a view to giving effect to the constitutional provision 
relative to fugitives ; ^ that the states could best determine 
how the duty of delivery enjoined upon them should be per- 
formed so as to be made acceptable to their citizens ; ^ and 
that the act of Congress was silent as to the rights of negroes 
wrongfully seized and of the states whose territory was en- 
tered and laws violated by persons acting under pretext of 
right.* The Supreme Court did not sustain these objections. 
A majority of the judges agreed with Justice Story in the 
view that Congress alone had the power to legislate on the 
subject of fugitive slaves. The reasons given for this view 
were two: first, the constitutional source of the authority, 
by virtue of which the force of an act of Congress pervades 
the whole Union uncontrolled by state sovereignty or state 
laws, and secures rights that otherwise would rest upon 
interstate comity and favor; and, secondly, the necessity of 
having a uniform system of regulations for all parts of the 
United States, by which the differences arising from the 
varieties of policy, local convenience and local feelings exist- 
ing in the various states can be avoided. The right to retake 
fugitive slaves and the correlative duty to deliver them were to 
be " coextensive and uniform in remedy and operation through- 
out the whole Union." While maintaining that the right of 
legislation in this matter was exclusively vested in Congress, 
the court insisted that it did not thereby interfere with the 
police power of the several states, and that by virtue of this 
power the states had the authority to arrest and imprison 
runaway slaves, and to expel them from their borders, just as 
they might do with vagrants, provided that in exercising 
this jurisdiction the rights of owners to reclaim their slaves 
secured by the Constitution and the legislation of Congress 
were not impeded or destroyed.^ 

As the friends of runaway slaves sometimes sought to 
oppose to the summary procedure of the federal law the 

^ 16 Peters' Seports, 579. ^ Ibid., 58&-590. ' Ibid., 596. 

* Ibid., 602. 5 Ibid., 612-617. 


processes provided by state laws in behalf of fugitives, so 
in their endeavor to overthrow the act of 1793, they occa- 
sionally appealed to the Ordinance for the government of 
the Northwest Territory. The Ordinance, it will be remem- 
bered, contained a clause prohibiting slavery throughout the 
region northwest of the Ohio River, and another authorizing 
the surrender of slaves escaping into this territory.^ The 
abolitionists took advantage of these provisions under cer- 
tain circumstances, in the hope of securing the release of 
those that had fallen into the eager grasp of the congres- 
sional act, and at the same time of proving the incompati- 
bility of this measure with the Ordinance. The attempt 
to do these things was made in three well-known cases, 
which came before the courts about 1845. The iirst of 
these was State vs. Hoppess, tried before the Supreme 
Court of Ohio on the circuit, to secure the liberation of a 
slave that had fled from his keeper, but was afterwards 
recaptured ; ^ the second was Vaughan vs. WiUiams, ad- 
judicated in the Circuit Court of the United States for the 
District of Indiana, a case originating in an action against 
the defendant for rescuing certain fugitives ; ^ and the third 
was Jones vs. Van Zandt, which was carried to the Su- 
preme Court of the United States and there decided. This 
last case grew out of the aid given nine runaways by Mr. 
Van Zandt, through which one of them succeeded in escap- 
ing.* The arguments, based upon the Ordinance, that were 
advanced in these cases are adequately set forth in the report 
of the first case, a report prepared by Salmon P. Chase, sub- 
sequently Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United 
States. These arguments, two in number, were as follows : 
first, the Ordinance expressly prohibited slavery, and thereby 
effected the immediate emancipation of all slaves in the Ter- 
ritory ; and, secondly, the clause in the Ordinance providing 
for the surrender of fugitives applied only to persons held 
to service in the original states.^ 

1 See Chap. II, pp. 28, 32. 2 2 Western Law Journal, 279-293. 

' 3 Western Law Journal, 65-71 ; also, 3 McLean^s Reports, 530-538. 
* 5 Howard'' s Reports, 215 et seq. 
^ 2 Western Law Journal, 281, 283 ; 3 McLean, 530. 


The opinions given by tlie courts in the cases under con- 
sideration failed to support the idea of the irreconcilability- 
existing between the law of 1793 and the Ordinance. The 
Supreme Court of Ohio declared that under the federal Con- 
stitution the right of recaption of fugitive slaves was secured 
to the new states to the same extent that it belonged to the 
original states.^ The Circuit Court of the United States 
took virtually the same stand by pointing out that a state 
carved from the Northwest Territory assumed the same con- 
stitutional obligations by entering the Union that the origi- 
nal thirteen states had earlier assumed, and that where a 
conflict occurred the Constitution was paramount to the 
Ordinance.^ Finally, the Supreme Court at Washington 
declared that the clause in the Ordinance prohibiting sla- 
very applied only to people living within the borders of the 
Northwest Territory, and that it did not impair the rights 
of those living in states outside of this domain. Whereso- 
ever the Ordinance existed the states preserved their own 
laws, as well as the Ordinance, by forbidding slavery ; the 
provision of the Constitution and the act of Congress look- 
ing toward the delivery of fugitive slaves did not interfere 
with the laws of the free states as to their own subjects. 
The court therefore held that there was no repugnance 
between the act and the Ordinance.^ 

Among the various objections raised in the court-room 
against the law of 1793, the denial of the power of Congress 
to legislate on the subject of fugitive slaves was one that 
should not be overlooked. It commanded the attention of 
the bench in at least two important cases, both of which 
have been mentioned in other connections, namely, Peter, 
alias Lewis Martin (1837), and State vs. Hoppess (1845). 
In both of these cases the denial of legislative authority was 
based upon the doctrine that there had been no delegation 
of the necessary power to Congress by the Constitution. 
The fugitive slave clause in the Constitution, it was said in 
the report of the second case, prepared by Mr. Chase, 

1 2 Western Law Journal, 288. 

2 3 McLean's Beports, 532 ; 3 Western Law Journal, 65. 
» 5 Howard's Reports, 230, 231. 


granted no power at all to Congress, but was "a mere 
clause of compact imposing a duty on the states to be ful- 
filled, if at all, by state legislation." ^ However prevalent 
this view may have been in the Northern states, — and the 
number of state laws dealing with the subject of fugitive 
slaves indicates that it predominated, — neither the Circuit 
Court of the United States for the Southern District of New 
York in the earlier case, nor the Supreme Court of Ohio in 
the later, were willing to subscribe to the doctrine. On the 
contrary, both asserted the power of Congress to pass laws 
for the restoration of runaway slaves, on the ground that 
the creation of a duty or a right by the Constitution is the 
warrant under which Congress necessarily acts in making 
the laws needful to enforce the duty or secure the right.^ 

The outcome of the judicial examination in the high 
courts of the various points thus far considered was wholly 
favorable to the constitutionality of the law of 1793. The 
one case within the category of great cases in which that 
law was decided to be unconstitutional in any particular 
was that of Prigg vs. Pennsylvania. By the law of 
1793 state and local authorities were empowered to take 
cognizance of fugitive slave cases together with judges hold- 
ing their appointments from the federal government.^ In 
the hearing given the case before the Supreme Court at 
Washington, in 1842, Mr. Johnson, the attorney-general of 
Pennsylvania, cited former decisions of the Supreme Court 
to show that in so far as the congressional law vested juris- 
diction in state officers it was unconstitutional and void.^ 
The court's answer was momentous and far-reaching. 
While the law was declared to be constitutional in its essen- 
tial features, it was asserted that it did not point out any 
state functionaries, or any state actions, to carry its provi- 
sions into effect. The states could not, therefore, so the 
court decided, be compelled to enforce them ; and any in- 
sistence that the states were bound to provide means for the 

1 2 Paine's Heports, 354 ; 2 Western Law Journal, 282. 

' 2 Paine^s Beports, 354, 355 ; also, 2 Western Law Journal, 289. 

' See Section 3 of the act, Statutes at Large, I, 302-305. 

* 16 Peters' Beports, 598. 


performance of the duties of the national government, no- 
where delegated or entrusted to them by the Constitution, 
would bear the appearance of an unconstitutional exercise 
of the interpretative power, i As the decision in the Prigg 
case carried the weight of great authority, and became a 
precedent for all future judgments,^ the relief it afforded 
state officers from distasteful functions was soon accepted 
by many states, and they enacted laws forbidding their 
magistrates to issue warrants for the arrest or removal of 
fugitive slaves.^ In consequence of this manifest disincli- 
nation on the part of the Northern states to restore to 
Southern masters their escaped slaves, the federal govern- 
ment was induced to make more effective provision for the 
execution of the Constitution in this particular. Such pro- 
vision was embodied in the second Fugitive Slave Law, 
passed as a part of the Compromise of 1850. 

That the new law was not intended to extinguish the old 
is apparent from the title assigned it, which read : " An Act 
to amend, and supplementary to, the Act entitled ' An Act 
respecting Fugitives from Justice, and Persons escaping 
from the service of their Masters, . . ."* Its evident pur- 
pose was to increase the facilities and improve the means 
for the recovery of fugitives from, labor. To this end it 
created commissioners, who were to have authority, like 
the judges of the circuit and district courts of the United 
States, to issue warrants for the apprehension of runaway 
slaves, and to grant certificates for the removal of such per- 
sons back to the state or territory whence they had escaped. 
All cases were to be heard in a summary manner ; the testi- 
mony of the alleged fugitive could not be received in evi- 
dence ; and the fee of the commissioner or judge was to be 
ten dollars when the decision was in favor of the claimant, 
but only five dollars when it was unfavorable. The penalties 
created by the new law were more rigorous than those 

1 16 Peters' Beports, 608, 622. See also Marion G. McDougall's Fugitive 
Slaves, pp. 108, 109. 

" M. G. McDougall's Fugitive Slaves, p. 28. 

s See Chap. IX, pp. 245, 246, and Chap. X, p. 337. 

* Statutes at Large, IX, 462. 


imposed by the old. A fine not to exceed a thousand dollars 
and imprisonment not to exceed six months constituted the 
punishment for harboring a runaway or aiding in his rescue, 
and the party injured could bring suit for civil damages 
against the offender in the sum of one thousand dollars for 
each fugitive lost through his interference. If the claimant 
apprehended a rescue, the officer making the arrest could 
be required to retain the fugitive in his custody for the pur- 
pose of removing him to the state whence he had fled. The 
refusal of the officer to obey and execute the warrants and 
precepts issued under the provisions of the law laid him 
liable to a fine of a thousand dollars for the benefit of the 
claimant ; and the escape of a, fugitive from his custody, 
whether with his assent or without it, made him liable to a 
prosecution for the full value of the labor of the negro thus 
lost. Ample security from such disaster was intended to be 
provided for the marshal and his deputies by the clause 
authorizing them to summon to their aid the bystanders, or 
posse comitatus, when necessary, and aU good citizens were 
commanded to respond promptly with their assistance. In 
removing a fugitive back to the state from which he had 
escaped, when an attempt at rescue was feared, the marshal 
in charge was commanded to employ as many persons as he 
deemed necessary to resist the interference. The omission 
of the new law to mention any officers appointed by the 
states is doubtless traceable, as is the clause establishing 
commissionerships, to the ruling in the decision of Prigg's 
case that state officers could not be forced to execute federal 

It will be remembered that the decision in the Prigg case 
also contained a ruling that acknowledged the right of the 
claimant to seize and remove the alleged fugitive, whereso- 
ever found, without judicial process. It has been suggested 
recently that this part of the decision, denominated the 
most obnoxious part, was avoided in the law of 1850. ^ But 
the language of the new law no more denied this right than 

1 Henry W. Rogers, Editor, Constitutional History of the United States as 
seen in the Development of American Law, Lecture III, by George W. Biddle, 
p. 152. 


the language of the old bestowed it. In both cases equally 
the claimant seems to have enjoyed the right of private 
seizure and arrest -without process, but for the purpose of 
taking the supposed fugitive before the proper official. ^ So 
far as the language of the statute was concerned the Prigg 
decision was quite as possible under the later as under the 
earlier law. It was the language of the Constitution upon 
which this part of the famous decision was made to rest, and 
that, it needs scarcely be said, continued un.changed during 
the period with which we are concerned. 

It is not to be supposed, of course, that the law of 1850 
was found to be intrinsically less objectionable to abolitionists 
than the measure it was intended to supplement. On the 
contrary, it soon proved to be decidedly more objectionable. 
The features of the first Slave Act that were obnoxious to the 
Northern people, and had been subjected to examination in 
the courts, were retained in the second act, where they were 
associated with a number of new features of such a character 
that they soon brought the new law into the greatest con- 
tempt. While, therefore, the records of the trials of the 
chief cases arising under the later law are found to contain 
arguments borrowed from the contentions made in the cases 

1 Section 3 of the law of 1793 provided that "the person to whom such 
labour or service may be due, his agent or attorney, is hereby empowered to 
seize and arrest such fugitive from labour, and to take him or her before any 
judge of the circuit or district courts of the United States, . . . within the 
state, or before any magistrate of a county (etc. ) . . . wherein such seizure 
. . . shall be made, and upon proof to the satisfaction of such judge or magis- 
trate ... it shall be the duty of such judge or magistrate to give a certificate 
thereof . . . which shall be a sufficient warrant for removing the said fugitive 
... to the state or territory from which he or she fled. ' ' 

Section 6 of the act of 1850 provides that "the person or persons to 
whom such service or labour may be due, or his, her, or their agent or attorney 
. . may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, either by procuring a war- 
rant ... or by seizing and arresting such fugitive, where the same can be 
done without process, and by taking, or causing such person to be taken, 
forthwith before such court, judge or commissioner, whose duty it shall be 
to hear and determine the case ... in a summary manner ; and upon satis- 
factory proof ... to make out and deliver to such claimant, his or her agent 
or attorney, a certificate . . . with authority . . to use such reasonable 
force ... as may be necessary ... to take and remove such fugitive per- 
son back to the State or Territory whence he or she may have escaped as 


already discussed, it is interesting to note that they afford 
proof that new arguments were also brought to bear against 
the act of 1850. As with the first Fugitive Slave Law, so 
also with its successor, fault was found on account of the 
absence of any provision for jury trial ; ^ the authority of a 
claimant or his agent to arrest without legal process ; ^ the 
opposition alleged to exist between the law and the Ordinance 
of 1787; 2 and the power said to be inaproperly exercised by 
Congress in legislating upon the subject of fugitive slaves.* 
It is unnecessary to introduce here a study of these points 
as they presented themselves in the various cases arising, 
for a discussion of them would lead to no principles of im- 
portance other than those discovered in the cases already 

In some of the cases that were tried under the act of 1850, 
however, new questions appeared ; and in some, where the 
questions were perhaps without novelty, the circumstances 
were such that the cases cannot well be passed over in silence. 

If, as was freely declared by the abolitionists, it was possi- 
ble for free negroes to be abducted from the Northern states 
under the form of procedure laid down by the act of 1793, 
there can be little reason to doubt that the same thing was 
equally possible under the procedure established by the act 

1 Sims' case, tried before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 
March term, 1851. See 7 Oushing''s Beports, 310. 

Miller vs. McQuerry, tried before the Circuit Court of the United States, 
in Ohio, 1853. See 5 McLean's Beports, 481-484. 

Ex parte Simeon Bushnell, etc., tried before the Supreme Court of Ohio, 
May, 1859. See 9 Ohio State Beports, 170. 

2 Norris vs. Newton et al., tried before the Circuit Court of the United 
States, in Indiana, May term, 1850. See 5 McLean's Beports, 98. 

Ex parte Simeon Bushnell, etc. See 9 Ohio State Beports, 174. 

United States vs. Buck, tried before the District Court of the United 
States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1860. See 8 American Law 
Begister, 543. 

8 Booth's case, tried before the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, June term, 
1854. See 3 Wisconsin Beports, 3. 

Ex parte Simeon Bushnell, and ex parte Charles Langston, tried before 
the Supreme Court of Ohio, May, 1859. See 9 Ohio State Beports, 111, 114- 
117, 124, 186. 

* Sims' case See 7 Cushing's Beports, 290. Booth's case. See 3 Wis- 
consin Beports. 

6 Tor the text of the Slave Laws, see Appendix A, pp. 359-366. 


of 1850. Certain it is that the anti-slavery people were 
not dubious on this point, but they had scarcely had time to 
formulate their criticisms of the new law when the first case 
under it of which there is any record demonstrated the ease 
with which this legislation could be taken advantage of in 
the commission of a foul injustice. The case occurred Sep- 
tember 26, only eight days after the passage of the act. 
A free negro, James Hamlet, then living in New York, was 
arrested as the slave of Mary Brown, of Baltimore. The 
hearing took place before a United States commissioner and 
the negro's removal followed at once. The community in 
which Hamlet was living was greatly incensed when the facts 
concerning his disappearance became known, and the sum of 
money necessary for his redemption was quickly contributed. 
Before a fortnight had elapsed he was brought back from 
slavery. 1 

The summary manner in which this case was disposed of 
had prevented a defence being made in behalf of the sup- 
posed fugitive. In the next case, however, that of Thomas 
Sims, which was tried before the Supreme Judicial Court of 
Massachusetts in 1851, the negro was represented by compe- 
tent counsel, who brought forward objections against the 
second Fugitive Slave Law. Almost the first of these was 
directed against the power of the special officers, the com- 
missioners, created by the new law. It was insisted that the 
authority with which these officers were invested was dis- 
tinctly judicial in character, despite the constitutional pro- 
vision limiting the exercise of the judicial power of the 
United States to organized courts of justice, composed of 
judges, holding their offices during good behavior, and re- 
ceiving fixed salaries for their services.^ The same argu- 
ment seems to have been adduced in Scott's case, tried before 
the District Court of the United States in Massachusetts in 
1851 ; in the case of Miller vs. McQuerry, tried before the 

1 Marion G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 43 and 44, witli the refer- 
ences there given ; Wilson, Eise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. II, 
pp. 304, 305. See Appendix B, p. 372. 

2 7 Cushing's Beports, 287. The constitutional requirement will he found 
in Article III, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States. 


Circuit Court of the United States in Ohio in 1853 ;i in 
Booth's case, argued in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin 
in 1854; 2 in the case known as ex parte Robinson, adjudicated 
by the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern 
District of Ohio at its April term, 1855; ^ and in the case ex 
parte Simeon Bushnell, argued and determined in the Su- 
preme Court of Ohio in 1859.* The court met this argu- 
ment by a direct answer in four of the cases mentioned, 
namely, those of Sims, Scott, Booth and ex parte Robinson. 
In the first, Sims' case. Chief Justice Shaw pointed out 
that under the Slave Law of 1793 the jurisdiction over fugi- 
tive slave cases had been conferred on justices of the peace 
and magistrates of cities and towns corporate, as well as on 
judges of the United States circuit and district courts, and 
that evidently, therefore, the power bestowed had not been 
deemed judicial in the sense in which it was urged that the 
functions of the commissioners were judicial. At the same 
time the judge admitted that the " argument from the limita- 
tion of judicial power would be entitled to very grave consider- 
ation " if it were without the support of early construction, 
judicial precedent and the acquiescence of the general and- 
state governments. In the trial of James Scott, on the 
charge of aiding in the rescue of Shadrach (May or June, 
1851), Judge Sprague, of the United States District Court, 
held that the legal force of the certificate issued by a com- 
missioner lay merely in the authority it conveyed to remove 
the person designated from one state to another, and that 
the disposition made of the person removed depended solely 
upon the laws of the state to which he was taken. The facts 
set down in the certificate were not, therefore, to be considered 
as matters judicially established, but as facts only in the 
opinion of the commissioner. In Booth's case, the opinion 
of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin contained a reference to 
the legality of the power of the commissioners and sustained 
the objection to their authority on the ground of unconstitu- 
tionality.^ In ex parte Robinson, Judge McLean admitted 

1 5 McLean's Seports, 481. 9 Ohio State Beports, 176. 

'^ 3 Wisconsin Beports, 39. 3 Wisconsin Beports, 64. 

" 6 McLean^s Beports, 359. 


that the inquiry made by the commissioner was "some- 
what in the nature of judicial power," but that the same 
remark applied to all the officers of the accounting depart- 
ments of the government, as, for example, the examiners in 
the Patent Office. He also remarked that the Supreme 
Court had always treated the acts of the commissioners, in 
the cases that had come before it, as possessed of authority 
under the law.^ 

The uncertainty as to the precise character of the com- 
missioners' power displayed in the different views of the 
courts before which the question was brought marks the 
observations of the commissioners themselves in regard to 
their authority. Examples will be found in Sims' and 
Burns' cases. In the former, Mr. George T. Curtis de- 
clared that claims for fugitive slaves came within the judi- 
cial power of the federal government, and that, consequently, 
the mode and means of the application of this power to the 
cases arising were properly to be determined by Congress. 
In the latter, Mr. Edward G. Loring asserted that his action 

• was not judicial at all, but only ministerial. 

-* An additional ground of objection to the commissioners 
was found in the provision made in the law of 1850 for their 
remuneration. When one of these officers issued a certifi- 
cate authorizing the removal of a runaway to the state 
whence he had escaped, he was legally entitled to a fee of 
ten dollars ; when, however, he withheld the warrant he 
could receive but five dollars. Abolitionists took much 
offence at this arrangement, and sometimes scornfully de- 
nominated the special appointees under the law the " ten- 
dollar commissioners," and insisted that the difference 
between the fees was in the nature of a bribe held out to 
the officers to induce them to decide in favor of the claimant. 
Considering the prevalence of this feeling outside of the 
courts, it is not surprising that objections to the section of 
the act regulating the fees of commissioners should have been 
taken within the court-room.^ Such objection was raised 
ia McQuerry's case, and was answered by Judge McLean. 

1 6 McLean's Beports, 359, 360. 

2 Hurd, Law of Freedom and Bondage, Vol. II, p. 747. 


This answer is probably tbe only one judicially declared, 
and is worth quoting: "In regard to the five dollars, in 
addition, paid to the commissioner, where the fugitive is 
remanded to the claimant," the judge explained, "in all 
fairness it cannot be considered as a bribe, or as so intended 
by Congress ; but as a compensation to the commissioner 
for making a statement of the case, which includes the facts 
proved, and to which the certificate is annexed. In cases 
where the witnesses are numerous and the investigation 
takes up several days, five dollars would scarcely be a com- 
pensation for the statement required. Where the fugitive 
is discharged, no statement is necessary." ^ 
JXh^ f o e s paid te --CQ mmiss io ne rsjwfire»^S-in.dicated in the 
remarks just quoted, by way of remuneration for services 
rendered in inquiries relative to the rights of ownership of 
negroes alleged to have escaped from the South. These 
inquiries, together with similar inquiries that arose under 
the act of 1793, constitute a group by themselves. Another 
group is made up of the cases growing out of the prosecution 
under the two acts of persons charged with harboring fugi- 
tive slaves, or aiding in their rescue. The secrecy observed 
by abolitionists in giving assistance to escaping bondmen 
shows that the evils threatening, if a discovery occurred, 
were constantly kept in mind. After the passage of the 
second act, public denunciation of the measure was indulged 
in freely, and open resistance to its provisions, whether 
these should be considered constitutional or not, was recom- 
mended in some quarters. Such remonstrances seem to 
have early disturbed the judicial repose of the courts, for, 
six months after the new Fugitive Slave Bill had become a 
law. Justice Nelson found occasion in the course of a charge 
to the grand jury of the Circuit Court of the United States 
for the Southern District of New York to deliver a speech 
on sectional issues in which he gave an exposition of the 
new law, " so that those, if any there be, who have made up 
their minds to disobey it, may be fuUy apprised of the con- 
sequences." ^ The severer penalties of the law of 1850 had 

1 5 McLean's Seports, 481. 

* 1 Blatchford'' s Circuit Court Beports, 636. 


no deterrent effect upon those who were determined to resist 
its enforcement. The fervor displayed in harboring runa- 
ways increased rather than diminished throughout the free 
states, and the spirit of resistance thus fostered broke out 
in daring and sometimes successful attempts at rescue. 
Through the activity of slave-owners in seeking the recov- 
ery of their lost property, and the support afforded them by 
the government in the strict enforcement of the new law, a 
number of offenders were brought to trial and subjected to 
punishments inflicted under its provisions. 

Among the prosecutions arising under the two congres- 
sional acts the following cases are offered as typical. The 
number has been limited by choosing in general from among 
such as came before supreme courts of the states, or before 
circuit and district courts of the United States. 

One of the earliest cases of which we have record was 
brought before the Circuit Court of the United States for 
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on writ of error, in 
1822. The action was for the penalty under the law of 
1793 for obstructing the plaintiff, a citizen of Maryland, in 
seizing his escaped slave in Philadelphia for the purpose of 
taking him before a magistrate there to prove property. 
The trial in the United States District Court had termi- 
nated in a verdict of $500 for the slave-owner. Judge 
Washington, of the Circuit Court, decided, however, that 
there was an error in the judgment of the lower court, that 
the judgment must be reversed with costs, and the cause 
remitted to the District Court in order that a new trial 
might be had. This case is known in the law books as the 
case of Hill vs. Low.^ 

Occasionally an attempt at rescue ended in the arrest and 
imprisonment of the slave-catchers, as well as the release of 
the captured negro. When a party of rescuers went to 
such a length as here indicated it laid itself liable to an 
action for damages on the ground of false imprisonment, as 
well as to prosecution for the penalty under the Fugitive 
Slave Law. This is illustrated in the case of Johnson vs. 

1 4 Washington's Circuit Court Reports, 327-331. 


TomkiDS, a case belonging to the year 1833.^ It was the out- 
growth of the attempt of a master to reclaim his slave from 
the premises of a Quaker, John Kenderdine, of Montgomery 
County, Pennsylvania. Before the slave-owner could re- 
turn to New Jersey, the state of his domicile, he and his 
party were overtaken, and after violent handling in which 
the master was injured, they were taken into custody, and 
were forthwith prosecuted. The trial ended in the acquittal 
of the company from New Jersey, whose seizure of the 
negro was found to be justifiable. Then followed the pros- 
ecution of some of the Pennsylvania party for trespass and 
false imprisonment, before the Circuit Court of the United 
States. The fact that the defendants were all Quakers was 
noted by the judge, who found it " hard to imagine " the 
motives by which these persons, " members of a society dis- 
tinguished for their obedience and submission to the laws " 
were actuated. The question of damages was left exclu- 
sively to the jury. The verdict rendered was for 14,000, 
and the court gave judgment on the verdict.^ 

The law of 1793 provided a double penalty for those 
guilty of transgressing its provisions : first, the forfeiture 
of a sum of 1500 to be recovered for the benefit of 
the claimant by action of debt ; secondly, the payment 
of such damages as might be awarded by the court in an 
action brought by the slave-owner on account of the injuries 
sustained through the loss, or even the temporary absence, 
of his property. In the famous case of Jones vs. Van Zandt, 
which was pending before the United States courts, in Ohio 
and at Washington, for five years, from 1842 to 1847, the 
defendant was compelled to pay both penalties. In April, 
1842, Mr. Van Zandt, an anti-slavery Kentuckian, who had 
settled at Springdale, a few miles north of Cincinnati, Ohio, 
was caught in the act of conveying a company of nine fugi- 
tives in his market-wagon at daybreak one morning, and, 
notwithstanding the efforts of the slave-catchers, one of the 
negroes escaped. The trial was held before the United 
States Circuit Court at its July term, 1843. The jury gave 

1 4 Baldwin's Circuit Court Reports, 571-605. 
" Washington's Circuit Court Reports, 327-331. 


a verdict for the claimant of $1,200 in damages on two 
counts.^ Besides the suit for damages, an action was 
brought against Van Zandt for the penalty of $500. In this 
action, as in the other, the verdict was for Jones, the plain- 
tiff. The matter did not end here, however, and was carried 
on a certificate of division in opinion between the judges to 
the Supreme Court of the United States. The decision of 
this court was also adverse to Van Zandt, and final judg- 
ment was entered against him for both amounts. This 
settlement was reached at the January term in 1847.^ 

The successful rescue of a large company of slaves was 
Ukely to make the adventure a very expensive one for the 
responsible persons that took part in it. Such was the ex- 
perience of the defendants in the case of Giltner vs. Gorham 
and others, determined in 1847. Six slaves, the chattels of 
Mr. Giltner, a citizen of Carroll County, Kentucky, were 
discovered and arrested in Marshall, Michigan, by the 
agents of the claimant, but through the intervention of the 
defendants were set at liberty. Action was brought to re- 
cover the value of the negroes, who were estimated to be 
worth $2,752. In the first trial the jury failed to agree. At 
the succeeding term of court, however, a verdict for the 
value of the slaves was found for the plaintiff. ^ 

The value of four negroes was involved in the case 
of Norris vs. Newton and others. These negroes were 
found in September, 1849, after two years' absence from 
Kentucky, living in Cass County, Michigan. Here they had 
taken refuge among abolitionists and people of their own 
color. They were at once seized by their pursuers and con- 
veyed across the line into Indiana, but had not been taken far 
when their progress was stopped by an excited crowd with a 
sherifif at its head. The officer had a writ of habeas corpus, 
and the temper of the crowd would admit of no delay in 
securing a hearing for the fugitives. The court-house at 
South Bend, whither the captives were now taken, was at 

1 2 McLean's Beports, 612. 

^5 Boward's Reports, 215-232; see also Schuckers, Life and Public 
Services of S. P. Chase, 63-66 ; Wajden, Private Life and Public Services 
of S. P. Chase, 296-298 . ' 4 McLean's Beports, 402-426. 


once crowded with spectators, and the streets around it filled 
with the overflow. The negroes were released by the de- 
cision of the judge, but were rearrested and placed in jail 
for safe-keeping. On the following day warrants were 
sworn out against several members of the Kentucky party, 
charging them with riot and other breaches of the peace, 
and civil process was begun against Mr. Norris, the owner 
of the slaves, claiming large damages in their behalf. 
Meanwhile companies of colored people, some of whom had 
firearms and others clubs, came tramping into the village 
from Cass County and the intermediate country. Fortu- 
nately a demonstration by these incensed bands was some- 
how avoided. Two days later the fugitives were released 
from custody on a second writ of habeas corpus, and, attended 
by a great bodyguard of colored persons, were triumphantly 
carried away in a wagon. The slave-owner, the charges 
against whom were dropped, had declined to attend the last 
hearing accorded his slaves, declaring that his rights had 
been violated, and that he would claim compensation under 
the law. Suit was accordingly brought in the Circuit Court 
of the United States in 1850, and the sum of $2,850 was 
awarded as damages to the plaintiff.^ 

Another case in which large damages were at stake was 
that of Oliver vs. Weakley and others, tried in the United 
States Circuit Court for the Western District of Pennsyl- 
vania, in October term, 1853. It was alleged and proved 
that Mr. Weakley, one of the defendants, had given shelter 
in his barn to several slaves of the plaintiff, who was a 
citizen of Maryland. The jury failed to agree on the first 
trial. A second trial was therefore held, and this time a 
verdict was reached ; one of the defendants was found 
guilty, and damages to the amount of f 2,800 were assessed 
upon him ; the other defendants were declared "not guilty. "^ 

The dismissal without proper authority of seven fugitives 
from the custody of their captors at Sandusky, Ohio, by 
Mr. Eush R. Sloane, a lawyer of that city, led to the institu- 
tion of two suits against him by Mr. L. F. Weimer, the 
claimant of three of the slaves. The suits were tried before 

1 5 McLean's Jteports, 92-106. " 2 Wallace Jr.'s Seports, 324-326. 


the District Court of tte United States at Columbus, Ohio, 
in 1854, and a verdict for 13,000 and costs was returned in 
favor of the slaveholder. The costs amounted to §330. 30, 
and the defendant had also to pay f 1,000 in attorneys' fees. 
Some friends of Mr. Sloane in Sandusky formed a committee 
and collected $393, an amount sufficient to pay the court and 
marshal's costs, but the judgment and the other expenses 
were borne by the defendant individually.^ 

The burden of the penalty, of which, as we have just seen, 
a small fraction was assumed by sympathizers with the 
offender in the case of Mr. Sloane, was altogether removed 
by friendly contributors in the case of another citizen of 
Sandusky. Two negroes from Kentucky, who were being 
cared for at the house of iSIr. F. D. Parish, were protected 
from arrest by their benefactor in February, 1845. As 
Parish was a fearless agent of the Underground Road, the 
fugitives were not seen afterwards in northern Ohio. The 
result was that Parish was required to undergo three trials, 
and in the last, in 1849, the Circuit Court of the United 
States for the District of Ohio fined him f 500, the estimated 
value of the slaves at the time. This sum, together with the 
costs and expenses, amounting to as much more, was paid by 
friends of Mr. Parish, who made up the necessary amount by 
subscriptions of one dollar each.^ 

1 6 McLean's JSeports, 259-273. Mr. Sloane's account of the case wiU be 
found in The Firelands Pioneer for July, 1888, pp. 46-49. A copy of the 
certificate of the clerk of court there given is here reproduced : — 

"Louis F. Weimer vs. Rush R. Sloane. United States District of Ohio, 
in deht. 

October Teem, 1854. 

Judgment for Plaintifi for §3000 and costs. 
Received July 8th, 1856, of Rush R. Sloane, the above Defendant, a receipt 
of Louis F. Weimer, the above Plaintiff, bearing date Dec. 14th, 1854, for 
§3000, acknowledging fuU satisfaction of the above judgment, except the 
costs ; also a receipt of L. F. Weimer, Sr., per Joseph Doniphan, attorney, 
for $85, the amount of Plaintiff's vritness fees in said case ; also certificates 
of Defendant's witnesses in above case for $162 ; also #20 in money, the 
attorney's docket fees attached, which, with the clerk and marshal's fees 
heretofore paid, is in full of the costs in said case. 

(Signed) William Miner, CTeri." 

5 For the first trial (1845), see 3 McLean's Meports, 631 ; s. c. 5 Western 
Law Journal, 25 ; 7 Federal Cases, 1100 ; for the second trial (1847), see 


It will have been noticed that the Van Zandt and Parish 
cases were in litigation for about five years each. A famous 
Illinois case, that of Dr. Richard Eells, occupied the attention 
of the courts and of the public more or less during an entire 
decade. The incidents that gave rise to this case occurred 
in Adams County, Illinois, in 1842. In that year Mr. Eells 
was indicted for secreting a slave owing service to Chauncey 
Durkee, of Missouri, and was convicted and sentenced to pay 
a fine of $400 and the costs of the prosecution. The case 
was taken on writ of error first to the Supreme Court of the 
state, and after the death of Mr. EeUs to the Supreme 
Court of the United States. In both instances the judg- 
ment of the original tribunal was confirmed. The decision 
of the federal court was reached at its December term for 

It was sometimes made clear in the courts that the defend- 
ants in cases arising under the Fugitive Slave laws were per- 
sons in the habit of evading the requirements of these laws. 
This is true of the case of Ray vs. Donnell and Hamilton, 
which was tried before the United States Circuit Court in 
Indiana, at the May term, 1849. A slave woman, Caroline, 
and her four children fled from Kemble County, Kentucky, 
and found shelter in a barn near Clarksburg, Indiana. 
Here they were discovered by Woodson Clark, a farmer 
living in the neighborhood, who took measures immediately 
to inform their master, while the slaves were removed to 
a fodder-house for safe-keeping. In some way Messrs. 
Donnell and Hamilton learned of the capture of the negroes 
by Mr. Clark, and secured a writ of habeas corpus in their 
behalf ; but, if the testimony of Mr. Clark's son, supported 
by certain circumstantial evidence, is to be credited, the 
blacks were released from custody by the personal efforts of 
the defendants, and not by legal process. Considerable evi- 
dence conflicting with that just mentioned appears to have 

10 Law Reporter, 395 ; s. c. 5 Western Law Journal, 206 ; 7 Federal Cases, 
1093 ; for the third trial (1849), see 5 McLean's Reports, 64 ; ». c. 7 Western 
Law Journal, 222 ; 7 Federal Cases, 1095. See also The Firelands Pioneer, 
July, 1888, pp. 41,42. 

1 5 Illinois Reports, 498-618 ; 14 Howard's Reports, 13, 14. 


had little weight with the jury, for it gave a verdict for the 
claimant and assessed his damages at $1,500.^ 

In the trial of ^Mitchell, an abolitionist of the town of 
Indiana, Pennsylvania, in 1853, for harboring two fugitives, 
some of the evidence was intended to show that he was con- 
nected with a "regularly organized association," the business 
of which was "to entice negroes from their owners, and to 
aid them in escaping to the North." The slaves he was 
charged with harboring had been given employment on his 
farm in the country, where, as it was thought, they would 
be secure. After remaining about four months they were 
apprised of danger and escaped. Justice Grier charged the 
jury to " let no morbid sympathy, no false respect for pre- 
tended 'rights of conscience,' prevent it from judging the 
defendant justly." A verdict of fSOO was found for the 

Penalties for hindering the arrest of a fugitive slave were 
imposed in two other noted cases, which deserve mention 
here, although they are considered at length in another con- 
nection. One of these was Booth's case, with which the 
Supreme Court of Wisconsin, and the District and Supreme 
Courts of the United States dealt between the years 1855 and 
1858. The sentence pronounced against Mr. Booth included 
imprisonment for one month and a fine of $1,000 and costs 
— 11,451 in all. 3 The other case was what is commonly 
known as the Oberlin- Wellington case, tried in the United 
States District Court at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1858 and 1859. 
Only two out of the thirty-seven men indicted were con- 
victed, and the sentences imposed were comparatively light. 
Mr. Bushnell was sentenced to pay a fine of §600 and costs 
and to be imprisoned in the county jail for sixty days, while 
the sentence of the colored man, Langston, was a fine of 
1100 and costs and imprisonment for twenty days. 

In all of the cases thus far considered the charges upon 
which the transgressors of the Fugitive Slave laws were 

* 4 McLean's Seports, 504-515. 
" 2 Wallace Jr.'s Beports, 313, 317-323. 

» 21 Howard'' s Beports, 510 ; The Fugitive Slave Law in Wisconsin, with 
Reference to Nullification Sentiment, by VromaJi Mason, p. 134. 


prosecuted were, in general terms, harboring and concealing 
runaways, obstructing their arrest, or aiding in their rescue. 
There was, however, one case in which the crime alleged in 
the indictment was much more serious, being nothing less 
than treason against the United States. This was the fa- 
mous Christiana case, marked not only by the nature of the 
indictment, but by the organized resistance to arrest made 
by the slaves and their friends, and by the violent death of 
one of the attacking party. The frequent abduction of 
negroes from the neighborhood of Christiana, in southeast- 
ern Pennsylvania, seems to have given occasion for the 
formation, about 1851, of a league for self-protection among 
the many colored persons living in that region.^ The lead- 
ing spirit in this association was William Parker, a fugitive 
slave whose house was a refuge for other runaways. On 
September 10, Parker and his neighbors received word from 
the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia that Gorsuch, a 
slaveholder of Maryland, had procured warrants for the 
arrest of two of his slaves, known to be staying at Parker's 
house. When, therefore, Gorsuch with his son and some 
friends appeared upon the scene about daybreak on the 
morning of the 11th, and, having broken into the house, 
demanded the fugitives, the negroes lost little time in sound- 
ing a horn from one of the upper-story windows to summon 
their friends. From fifty to one hundred men, armed with 
guns, clubs and corn-cutters, soon came up. Castner Han- 
way and Elijah Lewis, two Quakers, who had been drawn 
to the place by the disturbance, declined to join the mar- 
shal's posse and help arrest the slaves ; but they advised the 
negroes against resisting the law, and warned Gorsuch and 
his party to depart if they would prevent bloodshed. Neither 
side would yield, and a fight was soon in progress. In the 
course of the conflict the slave-owner was killed, his son 
severely wounded, and the fugitives managed to escape. 

The excitement caused by this affair extended throughout 
the country. The President of the United States placed a 
company of forty-five marines at the disposal of the United 

I Smedley, Underground Railroad, pp. 107, 108 ; 2 Wallace Jr.'s BeporU, 


States marshal, and these proceeded under orders to the 
place of the riot. A large number of police and special 
constables made search far and wide for those concerned in 
the rescue. Their efforts were rewarded with the arrest of 
thirty-five negroes and three Quakers, among the latter Han- 
way and Lewis, who gave themselves up. The prisoners 
were taken to Philadelphia and indicted by the grand jury 
for treason. Hanway was tried before the Circuit Court 
of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsyl- 
vania in November and December, 1851. In the trial it 
was shown by the defence that Mr. Hanway was a native 
of a Southern state, had lived long in the South, and, during 
his three years' residence in Pennsylvania, had kept aloof 
from anti-slavery organizations and meetings ; his presence 
at the riot was proved to be accidental. Under these cir- 
cumstances the charge of Justice Grier to the jury was a 
demonstration of the unsoundness of the indictment : the 
judge asked the jury to observe that a conspiracy to be 
classed as an act of treason must have been for the purpose 
of effecting something of a public nature ; and that the ef- 
forts of a band of fugitive slaves in opposition to the capture 
of any of their number, even though they were directed by 
friends and went the full length of committing murder upon 
their pursuers, was altogether for a private object, and could 
not be called " levying war " against the nation. It did not 
take the jury long to decide the case. After an absence of 
twenty minutes the verdict " not guilty " was returned. One 
of the negroes was also tried, but not convicted. Afterward 
a bill was brought against Hanway and Lewis for riot and 
murder, but the grand jury ignored it, and further prosecu- 
tion was dropped.^ 

One cannot examine the records of the various cases that 
have been passed in review in the preceding pages of this 
chapter without being struck in many instances by the char- 
acter of the men that served as counsel for fugitive slaves and 

1 StiU's Underground Bailroad Seeords, pp. 348-368 ; Smedley, Under- 
ground Bailroad, pp. 107-130; 2 Wallace Jr.'s Reports, pp. 134-206; 
M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 50, 51 ; "Wilson, Rise and Fall of the 
Slave Power, Vol. H, pp. 328, 329. 


their friends. It not infrequently happens that one comes 
upon the name of a man whose principles, ability and elo- 
quence won for him in later years positions of distinction and 
influence at the bar and in public life. In the Christiana 
case, for example, Thaddeus Stevens was a prominent figure ; 
in the Van Zandt case Salmon P. Chase and William H. 
Seward presented the arguments against the Fugitive Slave 
Law before the United States Supreme Court ;i Mr. Chase 
also appeared in Eells' case, and in the case known as ex 'parte 
Robinson, besides others of less judicial importance. Ruth- 
erford B. Hayes took part in a number of fugitive slave cases 
in Cincinnati, Ohio. A letter written by the ex-President 
in 1892 says: "As a young lawyer, from the passage of the 
Fugitive Slave Law until the war, I was engaged in slave cases 
for the fugitives, having an understanding with Levi Coffin 
and other directors and officers of the U. R. R. that my 
services \^ould be freely given." ^ John JoUiffe, another 
lawyer of Cincinnati, less known than the anti-slavery advo- 
cates already mentioned, was sometimes associated with Chase 
and Hayes in pleading the cause of fugitives.^ The "West- 
ern Reserve was not without its members of the bar that 
were ready to display their legal talent in a movement well 
grounded in the popular mind of eastern Ohio. An illustra- 
tion is afforded by the trial of the Oberlin-Wellington res- 
cuers, when four eminent attorneys of Cleveland offered their 
services for the defence, declining at the same time to accept 
a fee. The event shows that the political aspirations of these 
men were not injured by their procedure, for Mr. Albert G. 
Riddle, who spoke first for the defence, was elected to Con- 
gress from the Cleveland district the following year, and 
Mr. Rufus P. Spalding, one of his associates, was similarly 
honored by the same district in 1862.* In November, 1852, 
the legal firm of William H. West and James Walker, of 
Belief ontaine, Ohio, attempted to release from custody several 

1 Wilson, 'Rise, and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. I, p. 477. 

2 Letter of Mr. Hayes, Fremont, 0., Aug. 4, 1892. 
' Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, pp. 548, 549. 

* Rhodes, History of the United States, Vol. 11, p. 364. The others repre- 
senting the rescuers were Franklin T. Backus and Seneca O. Griswold. See 
J. R. Shipherd's History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, p. 14. 

^ : 

.^Sl '•*• 
















OF Sandusky, Ohio, 

fined $3000 and costs for assisting run- 
aways to Canada. 

who befriended fugitives in soutlieastern 
Pennsylvania, and appeared for them 
in court. 

J. R. WARE, 


a Station-keeper, in a centre receiving fu- 
gitives from several converging routes. 

Ex-President R. B. HAYES, 
who, as a young lawyer in Cincinnati. 
Ohio, served as counsel in fugitive slave 


negroes belonging to the Piatt family of Kentucky, before 
their claimants could arrive to prove property. The attempt 
was successful, and, by prearrangement, the fugitives were 
taken into a carriage and driven rapidly to a neighboring 
station of the Underground Railroad. The funds to pay the 
sheriff, the court expenses and the livery hire were borne in 
part by Messrs. West and Walker.^ 

Among the names of the legal opponents of fugitive slave 
legislation in Massachusetts, that of Josiah Quincy, who 
gained distinction in public life and as President of Harvard 
College, is first to be noted. Mr. Quincy was counsel for 
the alleged runaway in one of the earliest cases arising under 
the act of 1793.^ In some of the well-known cases that were 
tried under the later act Richard H. Dana, Robert Rantoul, 
Jr., Ellis Gray Loring, Samuel E. Sewell and Charles G-. 
Davis appeared for the defence. Sims' case was conducted 
by Robert Rantoul, Jr., and Mr. Sewell ; Shadrach's by 
Messrs. Davis, Sewell and Loring ; and Burns' case by Mr. 
Dana and others.* 

Instances gathered from other Northern states seem to 
indicate that information of arrests under the Fugitive Slave 
acts almost invariably called out some volunteer to use his 
legal knowledge and skill in behalf of the accused, and that 
in many centres there were not lacking men of professional 
standing ready to give their best efforts under circumstances 
that promised, in general, little but defeat. Owen Lovejoy, 
of Princeton, Illinois, was arrested on one occasion for aiding 
fugitive slaves, and was defended by James H. Collins, a 
well-known attorney of Chicago. Returning from the trial 
of Lovejoy, Mr. Collins learned of the arrest of Deacon 
Gushing, of WiU County, on a similar charge, and together 
with John M. Wilson he immediately volunteered to conduct 
the new case.* At the hearing of Jim Gray, a runaway from 
Missouri, held before Judge Caton of the State Supreme 
Court at Ottawa, Illinois, Judge E. S. Leland, B. C. Cook, 

1 Conversation with Judge William H. West, Belief ontaine, O., Aug. 11, 

' M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 35. 

» Ibid., pp. 44, 46, 47. 

* G. H. Woodruff, History of Will County, Illinois, p. 264. 


O. C. Gray and J. O. Glover appeared voluntarily as coun- 
sel for the negro.i As a result of the hearing it was decided 
by the court that the arrest was illegal, since it had been 
made under the state law ; the negro was, therefore, dis- 
charged from the arrest, but could not be released by the 
judge from the custody of the United States marshal. How- 
ever, the bondman was rescued, and thus escaped. Eight 
men were indicted on account of this affair, prominent among 
whom were John Hossack and Dr. Joseph Stout, of Ottawa. 
Mr. Hossack, who was tried first, had -an array of six of the 
leading lawyers of Chicago to present his side of the case ; 
they were the Hons. Isaac N. Arnold, Joseph Knox, B. C. 
Cook, J. V. Eustace, E. Leland and E. C. Larnard. Mr. 
Stout had three of these men to represent him, namely, 
Messrs. Eustace, Larnard and Arnold.^ Early in March, 
1860, two citizens of Tabor, Iowa, Edward Sheldon and 
Newton Woodford, were captured while conducting four 
runaways from the Indian Territory to a station of the Un- 
derground Railroad. At the trial they were ably defended 
by James Vincent, Lewis Mason and his brother, and were 
acquitted. It may be added that the trial closed at nine 
o'clock in the evening, and before daybreak the negroes had 
been rescued and sent forward on their way to Canada.* 

In Philadelphia there were several lawyers that could 
always be depended on to resist the claims of the slave-owner 
to his recaptured property in the courts. William StiU men- 
tions two of these, namely, David Paul Brown and WiUiam 
S. Pierce, as "well-known veterans" ready to defend the 
slave "wherever and whenever called upon to do so."* 
Robert Purvis relates an incident of David Paul Brown that 
will be recognized as characteristic of the spirit in which the 
class of advocates to which he belonged rendered their ser- 
vices for the slave. A case growing out of the capture of a 

1 The Ottawa Bepublican, Nov. 9, 1891. The hearing occurred Oct. 20, 

2 The Pontiac (HI.) Sentinel, 1891-1892. 

» The Tabor (la.) Beacon, 1890-1891, Chap. XXI of a series of articles 
by the Rev. John Todd, on "The Early Settlement and Growth of Western 

* Underground Bailroad Records, p. 367. 


negro by his pursuers occupied the attention of Mr. Purvis 
for a season in 1836, and he desited to engage Mr. Brown 
for the defence ; he accordingly presented the matter to the 
distinguished attorney, offering him a fee of fifty dollars in 
advance. Mr. Brovs^n promptly undertook the case, but re- 
fused the money, saying : " I shall not now, nor have I ever, 
accepted fee or reward, other than the approval of my own 
conscience, and I respectfully decline receiving your money."! 

In what was, so far as known, the last case under the 
Slave Law of 1850, Mr. John Dean, a prominent lawyer of 
Washington, D.C., displayed noteworthy zeal in the interest 
of his client, a supposed fugitive. The affair occurred in 
June, 1862, and came within the cognizance of the United 
States courts. Mr. Dean, who had just obtained the dis- 
charge of the colored man from arrest, interfered to prevent 
his seizure a second time as the slave of a Virginian. The 
claimant, aided by other persons, sought to detain the black 
until a civil officer should arrive to take him into custody, 
but the attorney's surprising play at fisticuffs defeated the 
efforts of the assailing party and the black got away. He 
soon enlisted in one of the colored regiments then forming 
in Washington, and it is to be surmised that all question 
concerning his status was put to rest by this step. Mr. 
Dean was indicted for aiding in the escape of a fugitive 
slave, and although the affair is said to have caused great 
excitement in the Capital, especially in the two Houses of 
Congress, it never reached a legal decision, but lapsed through 
the progress of events that led rapidly to the Emancipation 
Proclamation and the repeal of the Fugitive Slave laws.^ 

In the crisis that was reached with the beginning of the 
new decade, the question of the rendition of fugitives from 
service was by no means lost sight of. As in 1850, so in 
1860 a measure for the more effective protection of slave 
property appears to have been a necessary condition in any 
plan of compromise that was to gain Southern support. 
President Buchanan sought to meet the situation by pro- 

1 Smedley, Underground Bailroad, p. 359. 

2 This case is given by Mr. Noah Brooks, in his Washington in Lincoln's 
Time, 1895, pp. 197, 198. 


posing, in his message of December 4, 1860, the adoption of 
" explanatory " amendment's to the Constitution recognizing 
the master's right of recovery and the validity of the Fugitive 
Slave Law ; he also recommended a declaration against the 
so-called personal liberty laws of the states as unconstitu- 
tional, and therefore void. This produced, within three 
months, in the House, a crop of more than twenty resolutions 
relative to fugitive slaves ; the deliberations of that body 
issued at length, March 1, 1861, in the passage of a bill to 
make more effective the law of 1850. The new measure 
provided for an appeal to the Circuit Court of the United 
States, where cases were to be tried by jury. But in the 
Senate this bill never got beyond the first reading. 

That the people of the Northern states would have 
acquiesced in a new law for the surrender of runaway 
negroes was certainly not to be expected. Both the law of 
1793 and that of 1850 had been systematically evaded as well 
as frequently denounced, and now memorials were being 
sent to Congress praying for the repeal of the despised legis- 
lation. ^ A bill for this purpose was introduced into the 
House by Mr. Blake, of Ohio, in 1860, but was smothered 
by the attempt to amend the existing law. A similar 
measure was introduced into the Senate in December, 1861, 
by Mr. Howe, of Wisconsin, who prefaced its presentation 
by declaring that the Fugitive Slave Law " has had its day. 
As a party act it has done its work. It probably has done 
as much mischief as any other one act that was ever passed 
by the national legislature. It has embittered against each 
other two great sections of the country." ^ The bill was 
referred to a committee, where it was kept for some time, 
and at length was reported adversely in February, 1863. 

In the meantime slavery was subjected to a series of de- 
structive attacks in Congress, despite the views of some, who 
held that the institution was under constitutional protection. 
The passions and exigencies of the War, together with the 
humane motives from which the anti-slavery movement had 
sprung, did not leave these assaults without justification. 

1 Wilson, Hise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. Ill, p. 395. 

' Congressional Globe, Thirty-seventli Congress, First Session, 1356. 


In August, 1861, a law was enacted providing for the 
emancipation of negroes employed in military service against 
the government ; in April, 1862, slavery was abolished in 
the District of Columbia ; in May, army officers were forbid- 
den to restore fugitives to their owners ; in June slavery 
was prohibited in the territories; and in July an act was 
passed granting freedom to fugitives from disloyal masters 
that could find refuge with the Union forces. 

In the train of these measures, and in September of the 
same year in which most of them were enacted. President 
Lincoln issued his proclamation of warning to the South de- 
claring that all persons held as slaves in the states continuing 
in rebellion on the 1st of January, 1863, should be " thence- 
forth and forever free." When the warning was carried into 
effect on the first day of the new year by the famous Procla- 
mation of Emancipation, ownership of slave property in the 
border states was not abolished. The loyalty of these states 
was their protection against interference. As the Fugitive 
Slave Law was not yet repealed opportunity was still afforded 
to civil officers to enforce its provisions both north and south 
of Mason and Dixon's line. North of the line there was, 
however, no disposition to enforce the law. South of it 
wandering negroes were sometimes arrested by the civil 
authorities for the purpose of being returned to their mas- 
ters. The following advertisement, printed two months and 
a half after the final proclamation went into effect, illustrates 
the method pursued in dealing with supposed fugitives : — 

" There was committed to the jail in Warren County, Kentucky, 
as runaway slave, on the 29th September, 1862, a negro man call- 
ing himself Jo Miner. He says he is free, but has nothing to 
show to establish the fact. He is about thirty-five years of age, 
very dark copper color, about five feet eight inches high, and will 
weigh one hundred and fifty pounds. The owner can come for- 
ward, prove property, and pay charges, or he will be dealt with as 
the law requires. 


March 16, 1863. 1 m." ' 

1 Liberator, May 1, 1863. Extract from tlie Frankfort Commonwealth, 
quoted by M. G. MoDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 80. 


Although the proposition to repeal the Fugitive Slave Law 
of 1850 had been made in Congress in 1860, and repeated in 
1861 and 1862, no definite and conclusive action was taken 
until 1864. During the session of 1863-1864 five bills were 
introduced into the House looking toward the repeal of the 
law. In the discussion of the subject the probable effect of 
revocation upon the border states was frequently dwelt upon, 
and it was urged by many members that the loyal slave states 
would consider repeal as " insult and outrage." Mr. Mallory, 
of Kentucky, was one of those that took this view. He there- 
fore demanded that the law " be permitted to remain on the 
statute-book," urging, " If you say it will be a dead letter, so 
much less excuse have you for repealing it, and so much more 
certainly is the insult and wrong to Kentucky gratuitous." 
In reply to this and other arguments the need of enlisting 
negro soldiers was pressed on the attention of the House, and 
it was said by Mr. Hubbard, of Connecticut, "You cannot 
draft black men into the field while your marshals are chas- 
ing women and children in the woods of Ohio with a view to 
render them back into bondage. The moral sense of the 
nation, ay, of the world, would revolt at it." ^ The conclusion 
that slavery was already doomed to utter destruction coidd 
not be avoided. The House therefore decided to throw away 
the empty guarantee of the institution, and June 13 the 
vote on the bill for repeal was taken. It resulted in the 
measure being carried by a vote of 82 to 57. When the bill 
from the House came before the Senate the question of repeal 
was already under consideration, and, indeed, had been for 
three months and a half. Nevertheless, the House measure 
was at once referred to committee and was reported back June 
15. It was then discussed by the Senate for several days and 
voted on on June 23, the result being a vote of 27 in favor 
of repeal to 12 against it. Two days later President Lincoln 
affixed his signature to the bill, and the Fugitive Slave laws 
were thereby annulled June 25, 1864. The constitutional 
provision for the recovery of runaways, which had been 

1 Congressional Glohe, Thirty -eighth Congress, First Session, 2913. See 
also M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 86. 


judicially declared in the decision of Prigg's case to be self- 
executing was not cancelled until December 18, 1865, when 
the Secretary of State proclaimed the adoption of the 
Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution by the requisite 
number of states. 



To set forth tlie political aspect of the Underground Rail- 
road is not easy. Yet this side must be understood if the 
Underground Railroad is to appear in its true character as 
something more than a mere manifestation of the moral 
sentiment existing in the North and in some localities of the 
South. The romantic episodes in the fugitive slave contro- 
versy have been frequently described ; but it has alto- 
gether escaped the eye of the general historian that the 
underground movement was one that grew from small 
beginnings into a great system ; that it must be reckoned 
with as a distinct causal factor in tracing the growth of 
anti-slavery opinion ; that it furnished object lessons in the 
horrors of slavery without cessation during two generations 
to communities in many parts of the free states ; that it was 
largely serviceable in developing, if not in originating, the 
convictions of such powerful agents in the cause as Harriet 
Beecher Stowe and John Brown ; that it alone serves to ex- 
plain the enactment of that most remarkable piece of legisla- 
tion, the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 ; and, finally, that it 
furnished the ground for the charge brought again and 
again by the South against the North of injury wrought by 
the failure to execute the law, a charge that must be placed 
among the chief grievances of the slave states at the begin- 
ning of the Civil War. 

Even in colonial times there was difficulty in recovering 
fugitive slaves, because of the aid rendered them by friends, 
as is apparent from an examination of some of the regula- 
tions that the colonies began to pass soon after the intro- 
duction of slavery in 1619. The Director and Council of 
New Netherlands enacted an ordinance as early as 1640, 



the multi-millionnaire, whose mansiou in 
Peterboro, New York, was a station. 


who kept a room in his house in Jefferson, 
Ohio, for fugitives 






one of the provisions of whicli forbade all inhabitants of 
New Netherlands to harbor or feed fugitive servants under a 
penalty of fifty guilders, " for the benefit of the Informer ; 
\ for the new Church and i for the Fiscal." i Other 
regulations for the same colony contained clauses prohib- 
iting the entertainment of runaways ; such are the laws of 
1642,2 1648,3 1658,4 and, after the Dutch had been sup- 
planted by English control, those of 17025 and 1730.6 An 
act of Virginia that went into force in 1642 was attributed 
to the complaints made at every quarter court "against 
divers persons who entertain and enter into covenants with 
runaway servants and freemen who have formerly hired 
themselves to others, to the great prejudice if not the utter 
undoing of divers poor men, thereby also encouraging ser- 
vants to run from their masters and obscure themselves in 
some remote plantation." By way of penalty, to break up 
the practice of helping runaways, this law provided that 
persons guilty of the offence were to be fined twenty pounds 
of tobacco for each night's hospitality.'' That the law was 
ineffectual is indicated by the increase of the penalty in 1655 
by the addition to the twenty pounds of tobacco for eacli 
night's entertainment of forty pounds for each day's enter- 
tainment.^ Similar acts were passed by Virginia in 1657,® 
1666,1° aj^(j 1726.11 The last act required masters of vessels 
to swear that they would make diligent search of their craft 
to prevent the stowing away of servants or slaves eager to 
escape from their owners. An act of Maryland passed in 
1666 established a fine of five hundred pounds of casked 
tobacco for the first night's hospitality, one thousand pounds 
for the second, and fifteen hundred pounds for each succeed- 
ing night.12 A law of New Jersey in 1668 laid a penalty of 

* Laws and Ordinances of New Netherlands, 32. 
^Ihid. »iJid., 104. 

* Laws of New Netherlands, 344. 

" Acts of Province of New York from 1691 to 1718, p. 58. 
» Ihid., 193. 

' Statutes at Large, Henmg, Laws of Virginia, I, 253. 
« Ibid., 1, 401. 1° Ibid., II, 239. 

» Ibid. , I, 439. " Ibid. , IV, 168. 

u Maryland Archives, Assembly Proceedings, 147. 


five pounds in money and such damages as the court should 
adjudge upon any one transporting or contriving the trans- 
portation of an apprentice or servant ; ^ while another law, 
enacted seven years later, declared that every inhabitant 
guilty of harboring an apprentice, servant or slave, should 
forfeit to his master or dame ten shillings for every day's 
concealment, and, if unable to pay this amount, should be 
liable to the judgment of the court.^ Provisions are also to 
be found in the regulations of Massachusetts Bay ,3 Rhode 
Island,* Connecticut,^ Pennsylvania® and North Carolina,'' 
clearly intended to discourage the entertainment or the 
transportation of fugitives. It is interesting to note that 
in these early times Canada was a refuge for fugitives. In 
1705 New York passed a law, which was reenacted ten years 
later, to prevent the escape of negro slaves from the city 
and county of Albany to the French in Canada. The reason 
given for the law was the necessity of keeping from the 
French in time of war knowledge that might prove service- 
able for military purposes.* 

The group of enactments just considered together with 
many other early measures relating to the subject of fugitives 
makes it clear that the question of extradition of runaway 
slaves had also arisen in colonial times. A stipulation for 
the return of fugitives had been inserted in the formal agree- 
ment entered into by Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecti- 
cut and New Haven at the time of the formation of the New 
England Confederation in 1643,® and may be supposed to 

1 New Jersey Laws, 82. 

2 Ibid., 109. 

' Charters and General Laws of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts 
Bay, 386, 750 (1707 and 1718 respectively). 

* Proceedings of General Assembly, Colony of Bhode Island and Prom- 
dence Plantations, Providence, 177; Records of Colony of Bhode Island, 177. 

* Acts and Laws of His Majestie^s Colony of Connecticut, 229 (1730 prob- 

8 Province Laws of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1725 ; Province Laws of 
Pennsylvania, 325. 

' Laws of North Carolina, 89 (1741); Ibid., 371 (1779). 

8 Acts of Province of New York, 77 (1705) ; Laws of Province of New 
York, 218 (1715) ; Marion G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 8. 

° Plymouth Colony Records, IX, 6 ; Marion G. McDougall, Fugitive 
leaves, 7. 


have remained in force for a period of forty years. In the 
first national constitution, the Articles of Confederation 
adopted in 1781, no such provision was made. This omis- 
sion soon became serious through the action of the states 
of Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and 
Rhode Island between 1777 and 1784 in taking steps toward 
immediate or gradual emancipation; for the first time the ques- 
tion of the status of fugitives in free regions was now raised. 

When, in 1787, the question arose of providing a govern- 
ment for the territory northwest of the Ohio River, the 
difi&culty was felt ; and the Northwest Ordinance included 
a clause for the reclamation of fugitives from labor. A 
proposition made by Mr. King in 1785 to prohibit slavery 
in this region without any provision for reclaiming fugitives 
had gone to committee, but was never afterwards called up 
in Congress. In the discussion of 1787 an amendment was 
offered by Nathan Dane, of Massachusetts, the first clause of 
which excluded slavery from the territory, and the second 
clause provided for the rendition of fugitives. The previous 
delay and the prompt and unanimous approval of the com- 
promise measure of Mr. Dane give force to the contention 
of a special student of the Ordinance, that the stipulation 
forbidding slavery could not have been adopted without the 
provision for the recovery of runaways.^ 

About six weeks after the incorporation, by the Conti- 
nental Congress, of the fugitive slave clause in the North- 
west Ordinance, a similar provision was made a part of the 
Constitution of the United States by the vote of the Federal 
Convention at Philadelphia. ^ In the case of the Constitu- 
tion, as of the Ordinance, the clause was probably necessary 
for the acceptance and adoption of the instrument, and the 
action of the legislative body was unanimous.^ 

1 Peter Force, on the Ordinance of 1787, in the National Intelligencer, 
1847. See also E. B. Chase's volume, entitled Teachings of Patriots and 
Statesmen, or the "Founders of the Mepublio" on Slavery, 1860, pp. 156, 160, 
161, 169. 

2 E. B. Chase, Teachings of Patriots and Statesmen . . . on Slavery, p. 9. 
' Alexander Johnston's careful survey of the subject in the New Princeton 

Beview, Vol. IV, p. 183 ; J. H. Merriam, Legislative History of the Ordi- 
nance of 1787, "Worcester, 1888 ; M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 64. 


The settlement reached in regard to fugitives appears to 
have excited little comment in the various state conventions 
called to ratify the work of the Philadelphia Convention. 
It would be interesting to know what was the nature of the 
discussion on the point in the North. In the South the tone 
of sentiment concerning the matter is illustrated by the 
remarks of Madison in the Virginia convention, and of Ire- 
dell and Pinckney in the conventions of North and South 
Carolina respectively.^ Madison asserted of the fugitive 
clause that it " secures to us that property which we now 
possess." Iredell explained that "In some of the Northern 
states they have emancipated all their slaves. If any of 
our slaves go there and remain there a certain time, they 
would, by the present laws, be entitled to their freedom, so 
that their masters could not get them again. This would 
be extremely prejudicial to the inhabitants of the Southern 
states ; and to prevent it this clause is inserted in the Con- 
stitution. Though the word slave is not mentioned, this is 
the meaning of it." Pinckney declared: "We have ob- 
tained a right to recover our slaves, in whatever part of 
America they may take refuge, which is a right we had not 
before. In short, considering the circumstances, we have 
made the best terms for the security of this species of prop- 
erty it was in our power to make. We would have made 
better if we could ; but, on the whole, I do not think them 
bad." 2 

The constitutional provision was, of course, general in its 
terms, and, although mandatory in form, did not designate 
any particular officer or branch of government to put it into 
execution. Accordingly the law of 1793 was enacted. This 
law, however, was of such a character as to defeat itself from 
the beginning. Before the close of the year in which the 
measure was passed a case of resistance occurred, which 
showed that adverse sentiment existed in Massachusetts,^ 

1 These views are quoted by E. B. Chase, in his Teachings of Patriots and 
Statesmen . . . on Slavery. 

» Ibid. See also ElUot's Debates, Vol. Ill, 182, 277. 

' Appendix B, p. 367, 6. First recorded case of rescue (Quincy's case, 


and three years later another case — especially interesting 
because it concerned an escaped slave of Washington — 
demonstrated to the first President that there was strong 
opposition in New Hampshire to the law.^ The method of 
proof prescribed by the measure was intended to facilitate 
the recovery of fugitives, but it was so slack that it encour- 
aged the abduction of free negroes from the Northern states,^ 
and thus, by the injustice it wrought, stirred many to give 
protection and assistance to negroes.^ The number of cases 
of kidnapping that occurred along the southern border of 
the free states between 1793 and 1850 helps doubtless to ex- 
plain the development of numerous initial stations of the 
Underground Railroad during this period. 

The inefficiency of the first Fugitive Slave Act was early 
recognized, and the period during which it was in existence 
witnessed many attempts at amendment. It is possible that 
the failure of Washington to recover his slave in 1796 fur- 
nished the occasion for the fii-st of these.* A motion was 
made, December 29, 1796, looking toward the alteration of 
the law.* Apparently nothing was done at this time, and 
the matter lapsed until 1801, when it came up in January 
and again in December of that year.® In the month last 
named a committee was appointed in the House, which 
reported a bill that gave rise to considerable debate. This 
bUl provided that emplopng a fugitive as well as harboring 
one should be punishable ; and that those furnishing employ- 
ment to negroes must require them to show official certificates 
and must publish descriptions of them. It is reported that 
Southern members " considered it a great injury to the own- 
ers of that species of property, that runaways were employed 
in the Middle and Northern states, and even assisted in pro- 

' Appendix B, p. 367. Washington's fugitive, October, 1796. 

" Chapter n, p. 22 ; Chapter V, p. 120. 

» Ibid. 

* William Goodell, Slavery and Anti-Slavery, pp. 231, 232. 

' Souse Journal, Fourth Congress, Second Session, p. 65 ; Annals of Con- 
gress, pp. 1741, 1767. 

° Souse Journal, Sixth Congress, Second Session, p. 220 ; Annals of Con- 
gress, p. 1053; Souse Journal, Seventh Congress, First Session, p. 34 ; Annals 
of Congress, p. 317. 


curing a living. They stated that, when slaves ran away 
and were not recovered, it excited discontent among the rest. 
"When they were caught and brought home, they informed 
their comrades how well they were received and assisted, 
which excited a disposition in others to attempt escaping, 
and obliged their masters to use greater severity than they 
otherwise would. It was, they said, even on the score of 
humanity, good policy in those opposed to slavery to agree 
to this law."i Northern members did not accept this view 
of the fugitive slave question, and when the proposed bill 
was put to vote January 18, 1802, it failed of passage.^ The 
division on the measure took place on sectional grounds, all 
the Northern members but five voting against it, all the 
Southern members but two for it.^ 

For the next fifteen years Congress appears to have given 
no consideration to the propriety of amending the law of 
1793. Its attention was mainly occupied by the abolition of 
the slave-trade, the agitation preliminary to the War of 1812, 
and the events of that War.* At length, in 1817, a Senate 
committee reported a bill to revise the law, but it was never 
brought up for consideration. In the same year a bill was 
drafted and presented to the House, on account of the need 
of a remedy for the increased insecurity of slave property in 
the border slave states. Pindall, of Virginia, seems to have 
been its originator ; at any rate he was the chairman of the 
committee that reported the proposition. The interest in 
the discussion that resulted was increased, doubtless, by two 
petitions, one from the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, ask- 
ing for a milder law than that in existence, the other from 
the Baltimore Quakers, seeking some security for free negroes 
against kidnapping. 

The House bill as presented in 1817 secured to the claim- 
ant of a runaway the right to prove his title before the courts 

1 House Journal, Seventh Congress, First Session, p. 125 ; Annals of Con- 
gress, pp. 422, 423. 

2 The vote stood 46 to 43. 

' Souse Journal, Seventh Congress, First Session, pp. 125, 128 ; Annals of 
Congress, pp. 423, 426. 

* W. E. B. Du Bois, The Suppression of the American Slave Trade, 
pp. 105-109. 


of his own state, and thus to reclaim his human property 
through requisition upon the governor of the state in which 
it had taken refuge; it was further provided that the writ 
of habeas corpus was to have no force as against the provi- 
sions of the proposed act. The objections made to the 
measure are worth noting. Mr. Holmes, of Massachusetts, 
disapproved of the effort to dispense with the writ of habeas 
corpus, stating that such action would remove a safeguard 
from the liberty of free colored people. Mr. Mason, of the 
same state, declared against trial by jury, which somebody 
had proposed, insisting that " juries in Massachusetts would 
in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred decide in favor of 
fugitives, and he did not wish his town (Boston) infected 
with the runaways of the South." Mr. Sergeant, of Penn- 
sylvania, sought to amend the bill by making the judges 
of the state in which the arrest occurred the tribunal to 
decide the fact of slavery. And, last of all, Mr. Whitman, 
of Massachusetts, opposed the provision making it a penal 
offence for a state of&cer to decline to execute the act ; 
a point, it should be remarked, that came into prominence 
in the famous case of Prigg vs. Pennsylvania in 1842. 
Notwithstanding these efforts to modify the bill, it was 
carried without change, January 30, 1818, by a vote of 84 
to 69. In the Senate the bill was not passed without 
alteration. After a vote to limit the act to four years, 
the upper House made amendments requiring some proofs 
of the debt of service claimed other than the affidavit of 
the claimant, and then passed the act on March 12. The 
lower House did not find the modified bill to its liking, and 
therefore declined to consider it further.^ 

This failure to secure a new general fugitive slave act by 
no means prevented those interested from renewing their 

1 Souse Journal, Fifteenth Congress, First Session, pp. 50, 86, 182, 186, 
189, pp. 193, 198 ; Annals of Congress, pp. 446, 447, 513, 829-831, 838, 840, 
1339, 1393. Senate Journal, Fifteentli Congress, First Session, pp. 128, 135, 
174, 202, 227, 228, 233 ; House Journal, p. 328 ; Annals of Congress, pp. 165, 
210, 259, 262, 1339, 1716 ; T. H. Benton, Abridgment of the Debates of Con- 
gress, Vol. VI, pp. 35, 36, 37, 110 ; M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 21- 
23 ; Lalor's Cyclopoedia, Vol. II, pp. 315, 316 ; Sohouler, History of the United 
States, Vol. ni, p. 144. 


endeavors in that direction. Before the close of the year 
the House was prompted to bestir itself again by a resolu- 
tion of the Maryland legislature asking protection against 
citizens of Pennsylvania who were charged with harboring 
and protecting fugitive slaves.^ That the allegation was 
well founded cannot be doubted. Evidence has already 
been adduced to show that numerous branches of the Under- 
ground Railroad had begun to develop in southeastern Penn- 
sylvania as early at least as the year I8OO.2 A month after 
the presentation of the Maryland resolution a committee of 
the House was appointed. This committee reported a bill 
without delay, but again nothing was accomplished. The 
framing of the Missouri Compromise at the next session of 
Congress, in 1820, gave opportunity for the incorporation of 
a fugitive recovery clause, to enable Southern settlers in 
Missouri and other slave states to recapture their absconding 
slaves from the free territory north of the new state. ^ The 
fugitive clause in the Ordinance of 1787 had insured the 
same right for slave-owners taking land along the western 
frontier of Illinois. 

But of what utility were such provisions unless they could 
be carried into effect ? Immediately after the Missouri 
Compromise became a law, propositions for new fugitive 
slave acts were again offered in both the House and the 
Senate.* A later attempt was made in the winter of 1821- 
1822, when another resolution of the Maryland legislature 
similar to the one mentioned above was presented. These 
efforts, like the earlier ones, failed to secure the desired 

- McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 23. 

2 Chapter II, pp. 21, 22. 

' Annals of Congress, Sixteenth Congress, First Session, pp. 1469, 1587. 
McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 23. It will be rememtiered that according to 
the compromise Missouri was to he admitted into the Union as a slave state, 
while slavery was to be prohibited in all other territory gained from France 
north of 36 degrees 30 minutes. See Appendix A, p. 361. 

* House Journal, Sixteenth Congress, First Session, p. 427. 

5 Senate Journal, Sixteenth Congress, First Session, pp. 319, 326 ; Annals 
of Congress, p. 618 ; House Journal, Seventeenth Congress, First Session, 
p. 143 ; Annals of Congress, pp. 553, 558, 710. Annals of Congress, Seven- 
teenth Congress, First Session, pp. 1379, 1415, 1444 ; Benton, Abridgment 


The last petition of Maryland to Congress for the redress 
of her grievance due to the underground operations of 
anti-slavery Pennsylvanians was made December 17, 1821. 
The month of January of the same year had witnessed the 
presentation in Congress of a resolution from the general 
assembly of Kentucky, protesting against Canada's admis- 
sion of fugitives to her domain, and requesting negotiation 
with Great Britain on the subject. In 1826, during the 
administration of John Quincy Adams, negotiations were at 
length opened. Henry Clay, then Secretary of State, in- 
structed Mr. Gallatin, the American Minister at the Court 
of St. James, to propose an agreement between the two 
countries providing for "mutual surrender of aU persons 
held to service or labor, under the laws of either party, 
who escape into the territory of the other." His purpose in 
urging such a stipulation was, he declared, " to provide for a 
growing evil which has produced some, and if it be not 
shortly checked, is likely to produce much more irritation." 
He also stated that Virginia and Kentucky were particularly 
anxious that an understanding should be reached. 

In February, 1827, Mr. Clay again communicated with 
Mr. Gallatin on the subject, being led to do so by another 
appeal made to the general government by the legislature of 
Kentucky. At this time he mentioned the fact that a pro- 
vision for the restoration of fugitive slaves had been inserted 
in the treaty recently concluded with the United Mexican 
States, a treaty, it should be added, that faUed of confirma- 
tion by the Mexican Senate. About five months later the 
American Minister sent word to the Secretary of State that 
the English authorities had decided that "It was utterly 
impossible for them to agree to a stipulation for the sur- 
render of fugitive slaves," and this decision was reaffirmed 
in September, 1827. 

The positive terms in which this conclusion was announced 
by the representative of the British government might have 
been accepted as final at this time had not further considera- 
tion of the question been demanded by the House of Rep- 

0/ the Debates of Congress, Vol. VI, p. 296 ; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 
pp. 23, 24. 


resentatives. On May 10, 1828, that body adopted a 
resolution "requesting the President to open a negotiation 
with the British government in the view to obtain an 
arrangement whereby fugitive slaves, who have taken refuge 
in the Canadian provinces of that government, may be 
surrendered by the functionaries thereof to their masters, 
upon their making satisfactory proof of their ownership of 
said slaves." This resolution was promptly transmitted to 
Mr. Barbour, the new Minister, with the explanation before 
made to Gallatin, that the evil at which it was directed was a 
growing one, well calculated to disturb " the good neighbor- 
hood" that the United States desired to maintain with the 
adjacent British provinces. But as in the case of the former 
attempts to secure the extradition of the refugee settlers in 
Canada, so also in this, the advances of the American gov- 
ernment were met by the persistent refusal of Great Britain 
to make a satisfactory answer. ^ 

The agitation in Congress for a more effective fugitive 
slave law, and the diplomatic negotiations for the recovery 
of runaways from Canadian soil, which have been recounted 
in the preceding pages, must be regarded as furnishing evi- 
dence of the existence in many localities in the free states 
of a strong practical anti-slavery sentiment. This evidence 
is reenforced by the facts presented in the earlier chapters 
of this volume. The escape of slaves from their masters 
into the free states and their simple but impressive appeals 
for liberty were phenomena witnessed again and again by 
many Northern people during the opening as well as the 
later decades of the nineteenth century ; and deepened the 
conviction in their minds that slavery was wrong. Thus 
for years the runaway slave was a missionary in the cause 
of freedom, especially in the rapidly settling Western states. 
His heroic pilgrimage, undertaken under the greatest diffi- 
culties, was calculated to excite active interest in his behalf. 
Persons living along the border of the slave states, whose 
sympathies were stirred to action by their personal know- 

1 Niles' Weekly Register, Vol. XXXV, pp. 289-291 ; S. G. Howe, The 
Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, pp. 12-14 ; William Goodell, Slavery 
and Anti-Slavery, p. 264 ; M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 25. 


ledge of the hardsliips of slavery, became the promoters of 
Unas of Underground Railroad, sending or taking fugitives 
northward to friends they could trust. It was not an infre- 
quent occurrence that intimate neighbors were called in to 
hear the thrilling tales of escape related in the picturesque 
and fervid language of negroes that valued liberty more 
than life. The writer, who has heard some of these stories 
from the lips of surviving refugees in Canada, can well 
understand the effect they must have produced upon the 
minds of the spectators. Many children got their lasting 
impression of slavery from the things they saw and heard 
in homes that were stations on the Underground Road. 
John Brown was reared in such a home. His father, Owen 
Brown, was among the earliest settlers of the Western Re- 
serve in Ohio that are known to have harbored fugitives, 
and the son followed the f atl^r's example in keeping open 
house for runaway slaves.^ As early as 1815 many blacks 
began to find their way across the Reserve,^ and it is stated 
that even before this year more than a thousand fugitives 
had been assisted on their way to Canada by a few anti- 
slavery people of Brown County in southwestern Ohio.^ It 
is probable that numerous escapes were also being made 
thus early through other settled regions. The cause for this 
early exodus is not far to seek. The increase of the domes- 
tic slave-trade from the northern belt of slaveholding states 
to the extreme South, due to the profitableness of cotton- 
raising, and stimulated by the prohibition of the foreign 
slave-trade in 1807, aroused slaves to flight in order to avoid 
being sold to unknown masters in remote regions. The 
slight knowledge they needed to guide them in a northerly 
course was easily obtainable through the rumors about Can- 
ada everywhere current during the War of 1812.* The no- 
ticeable political effects of the straggling migration that 
began under these circumstances is seen in the renewed agi- 
tation by Southern members of Congress during the years 
1817 to 1822 for a more stringent Fugitive Slave Law, and 

1 Chapter II, p. 37. ^ Ibid., pp. 37, 38. 

» William Bimey, James Q. Birney and His Times, p. 435. 
« Chapter H, p. 27. 


the negotiations with England several years later looking 
toward the restoration to the South of runaways who had 
found freedom and security on Canadian soil. 

The influence of the Underground Road in spreading 
abroad an abiding anti-slavery sentiment was, of course, 
greatly restricted by the caution its operators had to ob- 
serve to keep themselves and their prot^g^s out of trouble. 
The deviating secret routes of the great system were devel- 
oped in response to the need of passengers that were in con- 
stant danger of pursuit. It is this fact of the pursuit of 
runaways into various communities where they were sup- 
posed to be in hiding, together with the harsh scenes enacted 
by hireling slave-catchers in raiding some station of the Un- 
derground Road, that gave to the operations of the Road that 
publicity necessary to make converts to the anti-slavery cause. 
During the earlier years of the Road's development the pur- 
suit of runaways was not so common as it came to be after 
1840, and later, after the passage of the second Fugitive Slave 
Law in 1850 ; but cases are recorded, as already noted, in 1793 
in Boston, 1804 in eastern Pennsylvania, 1818 in New Bed- 
ford, Massachusetts, and elsewhere. These are but illustrar 
tions of a class of early cases that brought the question of 
slavery home to many Northern communities with such force 
as could not have been done in any other way. These cases, 
like the numerous cases of kidnapping that occurred during 
the same period, contributed not a little to keep alive a senti- 
ment that was steadily opposed to slavery, and that expressed 
and strengthened itself in the practice of harboring and pro- 
tecting fugitives. / The great effect upon public opinion of 
these cases, and such as these, appears from the sad affair of 
Margaret Garner, a slave-woman who escaped from Boone 
County, Kentucky, late in January, 1856, and found shelter 
with her four children in the house of a colored man near 
Cincinnati, Ohio. Rather than see her offspring doomed to 
the fate from which she had hoped to save them, she nerved 
herself to accomplish their death. While her master, suc- 
cessful in his pursuit, was preparing to take them back across 
the river, she began the work of butchery by killing her favor- 
ite child. Before she could finish her awful task she was 


interrupted and put in prison. The efforts to prevent her 
return to Southern bondage proved unavailing, and she was 
at length delivered to her master, together with the children 
she had meant to kill. President R. B. Hayes, who was 
practising law in Cincinnati at the time, and lived on a pro- 
slavery street, told Professor James Monroe, of Oberlin Col- 
lege, that the tragedy converted " the whole street," and that 
the day after the murder "a leader among his pro-slavery 
neighbors" called at his house, and declared with great 
fervor, "Mr. Hayes, hereafter I am with you. From this 
time forward, I will not only be a black Republican, but I 
will be a damned abolitionist ! " ^ ' 

That the doctrine of immediate abolition should find ex- 
pression during the years in which the underground move- 
ment was in its initial stage of development, is a fact the 
importance of which should be given due recognition in 
tracing the growth of anti-slavery sentiment to 1830, and in 
showing thus what was the preparation of the North for the 
advent of Garrison and his followers, and for the party move- 
ments in opposition to slavery. It is surely worthy of remark 
in this connection that, of the three men that promulgated 
the idea of immediate abolition before 1830, one published a 
book, containing, besides other things, an argument in sup- 
port of the assistance rendered to fugitive slaves, while an- 
other was known both in Ohio and in the Southern states as 
an intrepid underground operator. 

Of the trio the first in point of time as also in pungency of 
statement was the Rev. George Bourne, who went to live in 
Virginia about 1809 after several years residence in Maryland. 
Mr. Bourne's acquaintance with slavery impressed him deeply 
with the evils of the system, and he accordingly felt con- 
strained to preach and also to publish some vehement protests 
against it. For this he was persecuted and driven from Vir- 
ginia, and, like a hunted slave, he found his way in the night 
into Pennsylvania, where he settled with his family. Among 
his writings is a small volume entitled The Book and Slavery 
Irreconcilable, published in 1816 and addressed to all that 

^ James Monroe, Oberlin Thursday Lectures, Addresses, and Essays, 1897, 
p. 116. See Appendix B, pp. 367-377, for cases under the Slave laws. 


professed to be members of Christian churches. In it the 
author vigorously and repeatedly urged the " immediate and 
total abolition " of slavery, and warned his contemporaries of 
the consequences of continuing the system until by its growth 
it should endanger the Union. He could discover no pallia- 
tive suitable to the evil. " The system is so entirely corrupt," 
he said, " that it admits of no cure but by a total and immediate 
abolition. For a gradual emancipation is a virtual recognition 
of the right, and establishes the rectitude of the practice. If 
it be just for one moment, it is hallowed forever ; and if it be 
inequitable, not a day should it be tolerated." ^ 

Eight years after the appearance of the book containing 
these uncompromising views, a treatise was published at the 
town of Vevay on the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana 
by the Rev. James Duncan. This small work was entitled 
A Treatise on Slavery, in which is shown forth the Hvil of 
Slaveholding, both from the Light of Nature and Divine Reve- 
lation. The purpose of the work as set forth by the author 
was to persuade all slaveholders that they were " guilty of 
a crime, not only of the highest aggravation, but one that, 
if persisted in," would " inevitably lead them to perdition." "^ 
He therefore assailed the principle of slavery, denying the 
argument admitted by some of the apologists for slavery 
among his contemporaries, namely, "that the emancipation 
of slaves need not be sudden, but gradual, lest the possessors 
of them should be too much impoverished, and lest the free 
inhabitants might be exposed to danger, if the blacks were 
all liberated at once." This doctrine of the inexpediency of 
immediate abolition Mr. Duncan denied, taking the position 
that such excuses would " go to justify the practice of slave- 
holding, because the only motive that men can have to prac- 
tise slavery is that it may be a means of preventing poverty 
and other penal evils. If the fear of poverty or any penal 

1 These quotations are taken from the summary of Bourne's The Booh 
and Slavery Irreconcilable, given in the Boston Commonwealth, July 25, 1885, 
since the original was inaccessible to the present writer. The summary ia 
known to be trustworthy. See The Life of Garrison, by his children, Vol. I, 
postscript to the Preface, and the references to the original there given. 

2 Preface, p. viii. 


sufferings will exculpate tte possessors of slaves from blame 
for a few months or years, it will do it for life ; and if some 
may be lawfully held to labor without wages, all may be 
held the same way ; and if the principle of slavery is morally 
wrong, it ought not to be practised to avoid any penal evil, 
hut if just, even the cruel treatment of slaves would not con- 
demn the practice." ^ He maintained that, although the dif- 
ferent sections of the country were not equally guUty of the 
sins of slaveholding, yet the nation as a whole was respon- 
sible for the evil, — on account of the number in the free 
states that were friendly to slavery, on account also of the 
advocacy by Northern representatives of the policy of slavery 
extension, and, finally, on account of the slack zeal of some 
of those inimical to the institution.^ He proposed that Chris- 
tians should have no church fellowship with slaveholders ; he 
urged political action against slavery ; and he supplemented 
the assertion that it was the duty of slaves to escape if they 
could, by the statement that it was impossible for any one to 
hinder or prevent their escape without flying in the face of 
the moral law.^ As regards gradualism, which was practised 
in some states, he said : " If it is lawful to hold a man in 
bondage until he is twenty-eight years of age, it must be 
equally lawful to hold him to the day of his death ; and if 
it is sinful to hold him to the day of his death, it must par- 
take of the same species of crime to hold him until he is 

1 Preface, pp. vii, viii. 

2 A Treatise, on Slavery, reprinted by the American Anti-Slavery Society, 
1840, p. 59. 

^ Ibid., p. 107. In advocating political action Mr. Duncan said, "The 
practice of slaveholding in a slave state need not deter emancipators or others 
from the privilege of voting for candidates to the legislative bodies, or from 
using their best endeavors to have men placed in office that would be favor- 
able to the cause of freedom, and yrho may be best qualified to govern the 
state or commonwealth, but it ought to prevent any from officiating as a 
magistrate, when his commission authorizes him to issue a warrant to appre- 
hend the slave when he is guilty of no other crime than that of running away 
from unmerited bondage." This was not the first time political action was 
proposed, for Mr. Bourne declared in his work (The Book and Slavery 
Irreconcilable') : "Every voter for a public officer who will not destroy the 
system, is as culpable as if he participated in the evil, and is responsible for 
the protraction of the crime." See the Boston Commonwealth, July 25, 


twenty-eight." 1 The arguments in support of his position 
he based largely upon the Decalogue, the Golden Rule and 
other scriptural injunctions, as well as upon the Declaration 
of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.^ 
Underground operators always justified themselves on these 
grounds ; and their motives in joining the Liberty and Free 
Soil parties later — as many of them did — appear not to have 
been other than the motives of Bourne and Duncan in advo- 
cating political action against slavery. 

The last member of the trio who complained of delay in 
granting freedom to the enslaved was the Rev. John Rankin, 
the pastor of a Presbyterian church in the town of Ripley on 
the Ohio River in southwestern Ohio. Long residence in 
Tennessee and Kentucky had filled him with hatred of sla- 
very, and for this hatred he gave his reasons in a series of 
thirteen vigorous letters addressed to his brother Thomas, 
a merchant at Middlebrook, Augusta County, Virginia, who 
had recently become a slave-owner. The letters were writ- 
ten in 1824, and were collected in a little volume in 1826. 
In the preface, Mr. Rankin said that the safety of the govern- 
ment and the happiness of its subjects depended upon the 
extermination of slavery,^ and in the letters themselves he 
attacked the system of American slavery in unmistakable 
language. In principle he stood clearly with Bourne and 
Duncan, as he afterwards came to the support of Garrison, 
although he did not use the words "immediate abolition." 
He held that " Avarice tends to enslave, but justice requires 
emancipation."* He heard with impatience the excuse for 
continued slaveholding that freedom would ruin the blacks 
because they were not capable of doing for themselves, and 
must, therefore, either all starve or steal. With sarcasm he 
exclaimed, " Immaculate tenderness ! Astonishing sympathy ! 
But what is to be dreaded more than such tenderness and 
sympathy ? Who would wish to have them exercised upon 

' A Treatise on Slavery, p. 123. 

2 Ibid., pp. 21, 32-40, 82, 84, 87-94, 96, 107. Mr. Duncan held that 
slavery was " directly contrary to the Federal Constitution." See pp. 110, 

^ Letters on American Slavery, Preface, p. iii. * Ibid., p. 20. 


(From a bust by Ellen Eankin Copp, of Chicag-o, Illinois.) 


himself? . . . And have not many of those [slaves] who 
have been emancipated in America become wealthy and good 
citizens? . . . We are commanded to 'do justly and love 
mercy,' and this we ought to do without delay, and leave 
the consequences attending it to the control of Him who 
gave the command." ^ It has been noted in another place 
that Mr. Rankin was for years an active agent of the Un- 
derground Railroad, in association with a number of aboli- 
tionists of his neighborhood, among whom he was a recognized 

The idea has somehow gained credence in the general 
accounts of the anti-slavery movement that the Garrisonian 
movement was one that could scarcely be said to have 
had precursors in the earlier agitation ; and the pre-Garrison 
abolitionists have been thought of, apparently, as marked by 
mild philanthropy, adherence to law and tolerance. It has 
been supposed that an interval of inactivity followed upon 
the earlier movements, and that the later movement was thus 
a thing apart, radically different in its character from any- 
thing that had gone before. In view of the evidence brought 
together in this volume it is perhaps not too much to say that 
a real continuity of development is traceable through the 
period with which we have had to do, and that many little 
communities throughout the country, under the influences 
always at work, had germinated the idea of immediate aboli- 
tion, in support of which texts were easily found in the 
Bible ; and that thus the way had been prepared for the anti- 
slavery ideas and activities of 1830 and the subsequent years. 
Mr. Garrison himself "confessed his indebtedness for his 
views " of slavery to Bourne's The Booh and Slavery Irrecon- 
cilable, next after the Bible itself,^ and in Number 17 of the 
first volume of the Liberator appears an extract quoted from 
Bourne's work.* It is certain that Garrison was familiar 
with the work as early as September 13, 1830,^ and he may 
have been so earlier. He arrived at the doctrine during the 

1 Letters on American Slavery, pp. 104, 107. 

2 Chapter TV, p. 109. 

» The Life of Garrison, by his children. Vol. I, p. 306. 

« Ibid., postscript to Preface. ' lUd., p. 207. 


summer of 1829, before his association with Lundy at Balti- 
more.^ It cannot be determined when Garrison first became 
acquainted with the Letters on Slavery of the Rev. John Ran- 
kin, but they seem to have had a wide circulation, for about 
the year 1825 they had fallen into the hands of the Rev. 
Samuel J. May, living at the time in Brooklyn, Connecticut, 
and he had read them with interest.^ In the second volume 
of the Liberator Garrison republished these letters, and in 
after years, on more than one occasion, he acknowledged 
himself the " disciple " of their author .^ 

The outspoken courage characteristic of the new phase into 
which the anti-slavery cause passed in 1830 helped to increase 
the resistance made in the North to the law for the rendition 
of fugitive slaves. The sympathy with the slave now became 
vocal in various centres, and made itself heard among the 
blacks of the South through the passionate and unguarded 
utterances of their masters. The evidence gathered from 
surviving abolitionists in the states adjacent to the lakes 
shows an increased activity of the Underground Road during 
the decade 1830-1840. The removal of the Indians from the 
Gulf states and the consequent opening of vast cotton-fields 
during the period named led many slaves to flee from the 
danger of transportation to the far South.* Under these 
circumstances pursuits of runaways became more frequent, 
and were often marked by a display of anger on the part of 
the pursuing party easily accounted for by the anti-slavery 
agitation in the free states. Open interference and rescues 
in which both negroes and whites took part became more 
common.^ Many persons of respectability, more courageous 
than the great majority of their class at that time, not only 
enrolled themselves in the new anti-slavery societies, but 
made it a part of their duty to engage in the defence of fugi- 
tive slaves. Salmon P. Chase often served as counsel for 

1 The Life of Garrison, Vol. I, p. 140. 

2 Memoir of 8. J. May, by George B. Emerson and others, pp. 76, 78, 87, 
139, 140. See also Life of Garrison, "Vol. I, p. 213, foot-note. 

« Life of Garrison, Vol. I, pp. 305, 306 ; Vol. Ill, pp. 379, 380. 

* G. M. Weston, Progress of Slavery in the United States, p. 22. 

* McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 38, 39. 


the captured runaway during this period, and soon gained 
for himself the unenvied title of " attorney-general for fugi- 
tive slaves." ^ Other men of talents, position and education 
were not behind the rising Ohioan in their protection of the 
refugee. A formal organization of Undei'ground Railroad 
woi'kers, with Robert Purvis as president, was effected at 
Philadelphia in 1838. It is evident that the Underground 
Railroad was now developing with rapidity. The conditions 
prevailing in the North and South during the decade 1840- 
1850 were not less favorable to the escape of slaves, and, in 
one particular, were more favorable ; the decision in the 
Prigg case in 1842 took away much of the effectiveness of 
the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, and thus made pursuit little 
less than useless. 

About four years before this historic decision was declared, 
that is to say, in December, 1838, John Calhoun, of Kentucky, 
sought to introduce a resolution in the House looking towards 
an enactment making it unlawful for any person to aid fugi- 
tive slaves in escaping from their owners, and another making 
it unlawful for any person in the non-slaveholding states to 
entice slaves from their owners, the prosecution of offenders 
against these proposed laws to take place in the courts of the 
United States. Objections were made to the introduction 
of these resolutions, and Mr. Calhoun was prevented from 
getting a reference of the matter to the Committee on the 
Judiciary by a vote of 107 to 89.^ When the Prigg decision 
came, its political significance was quickly shown in the pas- 
sage of laws by various Northern states forbidding their officers 
from performing the duties imposed by the act of 1793. From 
1842 to 1850, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania and 
Rhode Island passed such laws, and Connecticut, while re- 
pealing an earlier law on her statute books as being at the 
time unconstitutional, retained the portion of it that restrained 
state officers from assisting in the execution of the act. 

In the meantime the Southern leaders did not fail to note 
the progress of anti-slavery sentiment north of Mason and 

^ J. W. Schuckers, The Life and Public Service of Samuel Portland Chase, 
p. 52. For portrait see plate facing p. 254. 

2 Congressional Globe, Twenty-fifth Congress, Third Session, p. 34. 


Dixon's line. This was not less manifest in the formation 
of the Liberty party in the early years of the decade 1840- 
1850, than in the legislative and other opposition to the 
Fugitive Slave Law. Indeed, so marked an impression had 
been made upon the minds and sympathies of anti-slavery 
men by the b?'ave and successful flight of slaves, that a Lib- 
erty convention at Peterboro, New York, in January, 1842, 
issued an address to slaves, declaring that slavery was to be 
" tortured even unto death," advising them to seek liberty 
by flight, and assuring them that the abolitionist knew no 
more grateful employment than that of helping escaping 
slaves to Canada. In August of the following year the 
national convention of the new party, comprising nearly a 
thousand delegates from all the free states except New Hamp- 
shire, made the disavowal of the fugitive recovery clause 
of the Constitution a part of the party platform, voting by a 
decisive majority " to regard and treat the third clause of the 
Constitution, whenever applied to the case of a fugitive slave, 
as utterly null and void ; and consequently as forming no part 
of the Constitution of the United States whenever we are 
called upon or sworn to support it." ^ About the time of the 
announcement of this principle, Mr. Garrison issued in behalf 
of the American Anti-Slavery Society an address to the 
bondmen of the South, in which they were promised deliver- 
ance from their chains, and were encouraged to run away 
from their masters. " If you come to us, and are hungry," 
ran the address, " we will feed you ; if thirsty, we will give 
you drink ; if naked, we will clothe you ; if sick, we will 
minister to your necessities ; if in prison, we will visit you ; 
if you need a hiding-place from the face of the pursuer, we 
will provide one that even bloodhounds will not scent out."^ 
Such open attacks upon the property rights of planters and 
slave-traders must have been extremely aggravating to South- 
erners, and, of course, contributed to bring the question of a 
more effective Fugitive Slave Law again under the consider- 
ation of Congress, notwithstanding the fact that a large share 
of that body's attention was occupied during the period from 

1 Wilson, Bise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. I, pp. 552, 563. 
''Ibid., p. 563. 


1844 to 1848 with matters connected with the annexation of 
Texas, the Mexican War and the settlement of the Oregon 
boundary dispute. In 1847 the legislature of Kentucky pre- 
sented a petition to Congress urging the importance of new 
laws so framed as to enable the citizens of slaveholding states 
to reclaim their negroes when they had absconded into the 
free states. This resulted in a bill reported in the Senate, 
but the bill never got beyond its second reading. Two years 
later an attempt was made in the House to secure legislation 
for the same object, but the committee to whom the matter 
was referred seems never to have reported. 

At intervals more or less frequent, during a period of more 
than fifty years, the South had been demanding of Congress 
adequate protection for its human property against the depre- 
dations of those Northerners who rejoiced in the work of 
secret emancipation. The efforts of the slaveholding section 
for a stricter fugitive recovery law had uniformly failed down 
to 1850, and it seems altogether likely that the success won 
in the year named would not have been realized,^ if a bill 
intended to meet the needs of slave-owners had not been 
made an essential part of the great scheme of compromise 
for the adjustment of the differences threatening the perpetu- 
ity of the Union at the time.^ The measure that was finally 
adopted, as a part of the programme of compromise, was one 
introduced into the Senate by Mr. Mason, of Virginia, in the 
early part of the fii-st session of the Thirty-first Congress. It 

' "The wonder is how such an Act came to pass, even hy so lean a vote 
as it received ; for it was voted for by less than half of the Senate, and by 
six less than the number of senators from the slave states alone. It is a 
wonder how it passed at all ; and the wonder increases on knowing that, of 
the small number that voted for it, many were against it, and merely went 
along with those who had constituted themselves the particular guardians of 
the rights of the slave states, and claimed a lead in all that concerned them. 
These self-instituted guardians were permitted to have their own way, some 
voting with them unwillingly, others not voting at all. It was a part of the 
plan of ' compromise and pacification ' which was then deemed essential to 
save the Union ; under the fear of danger to the Union on one hand, and the 
charms of pacification and compromise on the other, a few heated spirits got 
the control and had things their own way." Benton's Thirty Years^ View, 
Vol. n, p. 780. 

2 See Rhodes' History of the United States, Vol. I, pp. 130-136, for a dis- 
cussion of the question whether the Union was in danger in 1860. 


was aimed, said its author, at evils " more deeply seated and 
widely extended than those " his colleague recognized. " The 
state from whence I came," continued Mr. Mason, " and the 
states of Kentucky and Maryland, being those states of 
the Union that border on the free states, have had ample 
experience, not only of the difficulties, but of the actual im- 
possibility of reclaiming a fugitive when he once gets within 
the boundaries of a non-slaveholding state." ^ Henry Clay, 
the author of the Compromise, whose disposition had been to 
lean to the Northern rather than to the Southern side of the 
general controversy, expressed the irritation of his own state, 
Kentucky, when he said concerning the question of fugitive 
slaves : " Upon this subject I do think that we have just and 
serious cause of complaint against the free States. I think 
they have failed in fulfilling a great obligation, and the failure 
is precisely upon one of those subjects which in its nature is 
most irritating and inflammatory to those who live in slave 
States. ... It is our duty to make the law more effective ; 
and I shall go with the senator from the South who goes 
furthest in making penal laws and imposing the heaviest 
sanctions for the recovery of fugitive slaves and the restora- 
tion of them to their owners." ^ Delaware and Missouri had 
grievances similar to those of Kentucky and other border 
states. The region constituted by these states suffered heavy 
losses through the operations of the Underground Railroad.^ 
That the cotton states also lost considerable property every 
year by the escape of slaves to the North appears from a 
statement of Senator Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi: "Ne- 
groes do escape from Mississippi frequently," he said, " and 
the boats constantly passing by our long line of river frontier 
furnish great facility to get into Ohio ; and when they do 
escape it is with great difficulty that they are recovered; 
indeed, it seldom occurs that they are restored. We, though 

1 Congressional Globe, Thirty-first Congress, First Session, Appendix, 
p. 1583. 

^ Life and Speeches of Henry Clay, Vol. II, pp. 641, 643. The speech 
from which the above quotations are made was delivered Feb. 5 and 6, 1850. 

' Congressional Qlobe, Thirty-first Congress, Second Session, Appendix, 
p. 1051 ; MoDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 31. 


less than the border states, are seriously concerned in this 
question. . . . Those who, like myself, live on that great 
highway of the West — the Mississippi River — and are most 
exposed, have a present and increasing interest in the matter. 
We desire laws that shall be effective, and at the same time 
within the constitutional power of Congress ; such as shall 
be adequate, and be secured by penalties the most stringent 
which can be imposed." ^ Calhoun admitted that discontent 
was universal in the South, and declared that conciliation 
could only come when the North consented to meet certain con- 
ditions, one of which was the restoration of fugitive slaves. 

Many of the speeches contained suggestions and prophecies 
of disunion. One of these, made by Pratt, of Maryland, 
called the attention of the Senate to a recent address deliv- 
ered by Mr. Seward, of New York, before an assembly of 
Ohioans, in which he urged them to " extend a cordial wel- 
come to the fugitive who lays his weary limbs at your door, 
and defend him as you wovXd your household gods." ^ Another 
made by Yulee, of Florida, informed the Senate of a conven- 
tion then sitting at Cazenovia, New York, attended by more 
than thirty runaway slaves, and held for the purpose of 
devising ways and means of escape for blacks. The language 
of the address to slaves issued by the convention was not 
calculated to reassure slave-owners. In part it ran : " Includ- 
ing our children, we number here in Canada 20,000 souls. 
The population in the free States are, with few exceptions, 
the fugitive slave's friends. 

" We are poor. We can do little more for your deliverance 
than pray to God for it. We will furnish you with pocket 
compasses, and in the dark nights you can run away. We 
cannot furnish you with weapons ; some of us are not inclined 
to carry arms ; but if you can get them, take them, and, be- 
fore you go back into bondage, use them, if you are obliged 
to take life. The slaveholders would not hesitate to kill 
you, rather than not take you back into bondage. 

"Numerous as the escapes from slavery are, they would 
still be more so, were it not for the master's protection of the 

1 Congressional Crlobe, Thirty-first Congress, First Session, Appendix, 
p. 1615. ^ Ibid., p. 1592. 


rights of property. You even hesitate to take the slowest of 
his horses; but we say take the fastest. Pack up provi- 
sions and clothes ; and either get a key, or force the lock, and 
get his money and start." ^ In view of such proceedings, 
openly conducted without hindrance, the Senator appealed to 
his auditors and to the country to consider whether "this 
Union can long continue ? " ^ 

In his famous 7th-of-March speech, Webster freely admitted 
that the complaints of the South in regard to the non-rendition 
of fugitive slaves were just, and that the North had fallen short 
of her duty. He therefore decided to support Mason's Fugi- 
tive Slave Bill, although he wanted it amended in certain par- 
ticulars, and sought especially to have in it a clause securing 
trial by jury to the refugee in case he denied owing service 
to the claimant. He criticised the abolition societies of the 
North, and said he thought their operations for the last 
twenty years had produced "nothing good or valuable." 
The press of the South he found to be as violent as that of 
the other section. There was, he decided, " no solid griev- 
ance presented by the South within the redress of the gov- 
ernment, . . . but the want of a proper regard to the 
injunction of the Constitution for the delivery of fugitive 
slaves." ^ 

Under the combined championship of Webster, Clay and 
Calhoun, and to bring about better feeling between the two 
parts of the country, which in the eyes of many contempora- 
ries seemed on the verge of splitting asunder, the new Fugitive 
Slave Law was passed by the Senate, August 26, 1850, and 
by the House a few days later. By the signature of Presi- 
dent Fillmore the measure became a law, September 18. 

The vote by which the new law had been passed through 
the two Houses of Congress did not betoken a disposition at 
the North to meet the obligations it imposed upon that sec- 
tion. Only three of the senators representing free states 
voted for the measure. These were Dodge and Jones, of 
Indiana, and Sturgeon, of Pennsylvania. Among the one 

1 Congressional Olobe, Thirty-first Congress, First Session, Appendix, 
pp. 1622, 1623. 

2 Ibid. 8 Webster'." Works, Vol. V, pp. 354, 355, 357, 358, 361. 


hundred and thirty-six members from the Northern states in 
the House, only thirty-one voted with the slaveholders. 
Three of the thirty-one were Whigs, the rest Democrats.^ 
Jefferson Davis showed that he comprehended the true situa- 
tion when he said, during the following session of Congress, 
that the history of the law proved that it would not furnish 
the needed security, because the Northern majority did not 
pass the bill, but merely allowed the Southern minority to 
pass it, and because the measure had to be executed in the 
North.^ This view of the case seems not to have been taken 
by those representing the border slave states. The compre- 
hensive character of Clay's scheme was favorable to the 
incorporation in it of a measure stringent enough to suit the 
most aggrieved without exciting the opposition such a meas- 
ure would have called out if presented by itself. 

Whatever the expectations of the various slaveholding 
states with regard to the recovery of their runaways under 
the new law, Joshua R. Giddings, himself an enthusiastic 
agent of the Underground Railroad and a better judge of 
the real convictions of the North than Webster, took the 
earliest occasion to give utterance to the sentiments of the 
people upon whom depended the success or failure of the law 
of 1850. Giddings did not delay, nor did he mince matters. 
In the earliest days of the session following that in which 
the compromise had been passed he denounced the Fugitive 
Slave Law and predicted its failure. Concerning the citizens 
of his own state, he said : " The freemen of Ohio will never 
turn out to chase the panting fugitive. They will never be 
metamorphosed into bloodhounds, to track him to his hiding- 
place, and seize and drag him out, and deliver him to his 
tormentors. Rely upon it they will die first. . . . Let no 
man teU me there is no higher law than this fugitive bill. 
We feel there is a law of right, of justice, of freedom, im- 
planted in the breast of every intelligent human being, that 

1 Von Hoist, Constitutional and Political History of the United States, 
Vol. rv, pp. 18, 19. The hundred and thirty-six Northern members com- 
prised seventy-six Whigs and fifty Democrats. 

2 Congressional Globe, Thirty-flrst Congress, Second Session, Appendix, 
p. 324. See also Von Hoist's work, Vol. IV, p. 27. 


bids him look with scorn upon this libel on all that is called 
law." 1 

That slave-owners counted on deriving benefits from the 
law appears from the great number of attempts at once made 
to reclaim runaways, and the frequent prosecutions of those 
guilty of facilitating their escape. The period sometimes 
designated the " era of slave-hunting " began in the North. 
Slave-owners and their agents entered vigorously upon the 
chase, and a larger number of communities in the free states 
than ever before were invaded by men engaged in the dis- 
gusting business of capturing blacks, intelligent and ambi- 
tious enough to seek their own liberty. Villages, towns and 
cities from Iowa to Maine, but especially in the middle states, 
witnessed scenes calculated to awaken the popular detestation 
of slavery as it had never been awakened before. Pitiable 
distress fell upon the fugitive settlers in the North and did 
much to quicken consciences everywhere. The capture of a 
fugitive in the place where he had been living invariably 
caused an outburst of indignation; and if the victim were 
not rescued before his removal by his captors a sum of money 
was raised if possible, and his freedom was purchased if that 
could be done. All of these circumstances contributed to 
increase the traffic along the numerous and tortuous lines of 
the Underground Railroad, which, according to the testimony 
of surviving abolitionists, did its most thriving business in all 
parts of the North during the decade from 1850 to 1860. 
The marked increase in the number of negroes seeking aid 
on their way to Canada at the outset of this period was due 
to the flight of many of the fugitive settlers from their accus- 
tomed haunts in the free states ; but the supply later on must 
be attributed to the ease of communication through various 
channels by which slaves were every day learning of the 
body of abolitionists eager to help them to freedom. The 
readiness of the Northern people to act in opposition to 
the law arose from their abhorrence of a measure that they 
considered unrighteous and cruel, and from their resentment 

1 Congressional Globe, Thirty-flrst Congress, Second Session, pp. 15, 16. 
Von Hoist, Constitutional and Political History of the United States, Vol. 
IV, p. 15. 


at the requirement that they must join in the hunt, so that 
the fugitive might be promptly enslaved. ^ The wide-spread 
opposition to the law led to prosecutions of underground 
workers in various places, and these prosecutions greatly 
helped to keep the slavery question before the attention of 
the country, despite the wishes and endeavors of the politi- 
cians who strove to silence the issue.^ 

The record of the year 1851 illustrates the character of the 
general contest, which had already set in before the enact- 
ment of the new law, but which assumed thenceforth an 
importance it had never had before. Early in the year Sha- 
drach was seized in Boston, carried before the commissioner, 
and remanded to custody, but was rescued by a crowd of 
negroes and hurried off to Canada. Later Sims was caught 
and confined in the court-house until he was marched to 
Long Wharf under guard of three hundred policemen. Wil- 
Uam and Ellen Craft, fugitives from Georgia, were tracked 
to Boston, but, aided by Theodore Parker and other faithful 
friends, succeeded in escaping to England. Other notable 
instances of pursuit occurred at Chicago, Illinois, Pough- 
keepsie. New York, and Westchester and Wilkesbarre, Penn- 
sylvania. At Philadelphia a free negro was arrested, proved 
a slave by perjured testimony and taken to Maryland; fortu- 
nately he gained his liberty again by the refusal of the 
planter to whom he was delivered to identify him as his 
lost property. At Buffalo an alleged fugitive was released 
on writ of habeas corpus by Judge Conkling. At the hear- 
ing that followed the lack of evidence caused the judge to 
discharge the prisoner, and he was soon in Canada. In the 
attempt of the Maryland slave-owner, Gorsuch, and his party, 
to recover certain runaway slaves from Christiana, Pennsyl- 
vania, Gorsuch was killed and his son seriously wounded, 
while the fugitives managed to escape. This affair caused 
intense excitement, not only in Pennsylvania, but through- 

1 MoDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 63. 

3 "These prosecutions attracted more attention to the slavery question 
in a few months than the abolitionists had been able to arouse in twenty 
years." Professor Edward Channing, The United States of America, 1765- 
1865, p. 241. 


out the country. Another case resulting in the death of one 
of the parties concerned grew out of the kidnapping of a free 
negro girl from the house of a Mr. Miller, in Nottingham, 
Pennsylvania ; Miller succeeded in rescuing the girl, but he 
was mysteriously murdered before he reached home. Near 
the close of the year 1851 Jerry McHenry was arrested in 
Syracuse, New York, while an agricultural fair and a conven- 
tion of the Liberty party were in progress in that city. The 
attempted escape and the recapture of the negro wrought up 
tlie crowd to a state of intense feeling, which was not re- 
lieved until the fugitive was rescued and sent to Canada.^ 
There were many other instances in which communities were 
given the opportunity to show their spirit in the defence of 
helpless bondmen. 

The political leaders and the administration, who were 
responsible for the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law, 
were not willing to see its provisions thus trampled under 
foot. Upon the reassembling of Congress in December, 1850, 
President Fillmore expressed himself in his message as pleased 
with the compromise measures, although, he admitted, they 
had not yet realized their purpose fully. "It would be 
strange," he said, " if they had been received with immediate 
approbation by people and states prejudiced and heated by 
the exciting controversies of their representatives." He never- 
theless had faith that the various enactments would be gen- 
erally sustained. The tinge of doubt in the communication 
of the President pretty certainly referred to the fierce denun- 
ciations of the Fugitive Slave Law recently uttered by mass- 
meetings in various parts of the Northern states, and to 
several cases of resistance where the execution of the law had 
been attempted. His reassuring expressions voiced his own 
hope and that of the political magnates ; and he meant also, 
perhaps, to carry assurance to the South. Some balm seemed 
necessary, for the Georgia convention in accepting the com- 
promise as a " permanent adjustment of the sectional contro- 
versy," voted, "That it is the deliberate opinion of this 
convention that upon the faithful execution of the Fugitive 

- F. W. Seward, Seioard at Washington as Senator and Secretary of State, 
1891, Vol. I, pp. 169, 170. McDougaU, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 44, 47-51, 68, 59. 


Slave Bill by tlie proper authorities depends tlie preservation 
of our mucli-loved Union." ^ 

The open resistance to the law upon several occasions in 
1851 brought opportunities to the administration to exert 
itself in favor of the faithful execution of the law. After 
the rescue of Shadrach from the United States marshal on 
February 15, much excitement existed, especially at the 
centre of government. The President immediately issued a 
proclamation commanding all civil and military officers, and 
calling on all good citizens, to "aid in quelling this and 
similar combinations " and to assist in capturing the persons 
that had set the law at defiance. The Senate, after debate, 
adopted a resolution requesting the President to lay before it 
information relating to the rescue, and inquiring whether 
further legislation was desirable. This request was promptly 
complied with by the executive. Then Clay, the author of 
the resolution, urged that the President be invested with 
extraordinary power to enforce the law, but failed to gain 
substantial support for his proposition . In the meantime five 
of the rescuers of Shadrach were indicted and tried, but 
owing to the disagreement of the jury none of them were 
convicted. The energetic action of the administration and 
its supporters had apparently accomplished no result, except 
to demonstrate the difficulties with which the enforcement 
of the Fugitive Slave Act was encompassed. 

The same lesson was taught in two important instances' 
toward the end of this year, when the government under- 
took to carry the law into effect. The Gorsuch tragedy at 
Christiana, Pennsylvania, led the President to order the 
United States marshal, district attorney and commissioner 
from Philadelphia, with forty-five United States marines from 
the navy-yard, to assist in arresting those supposed to have 
been engaged in the fight. The fugitives had escaped and 
could not be recovered, but a number of other persons, most 
of whom were colored, were arrested, taken to Philadelphia, 
and indicted for treason. But the efforts of the authorities 
to convict were unavailing, and the prisoners went scot free.^ 

1 Boston Atlas, Dec. 17, 1850. 

2 For references see Appendix B, 53, Christiana case, p. 373. 


Within a few days after the passage of the Fugitive Slave 
Law in September of the previous year, the spirit of resistance 
in Syracuse, New York, had manifested itself in public meet- 
ings at which the law was denounced and a Vigilance Com- 
mittee organized.^ In the early part of June following, 
Daniel Webster, who was travelling extensively through the 
Northern states and exerting his personal and oflficial influence 
to secure obedience to the law, visited Syracuse and made a 
speech. In the course of his remarks he insisted in no con- 
ciliatory terms that the law must be enforced. He said, 
" Those persons in this city who mean to oppose the execution 
of the Fugitive Slave Law are traitors ! traitors ! ! traitors ! ! ! 
This law ought to be obeyed, and it will be enforced — yes, 
it shall be enforced, and that, too, in the midst of the next 
anti-slavery convention, if then there shall be any occasion to 
enforce it." 

As if in fulfillment of this prediction of the Secretary of 
State, on October 1, 1851, a day when a convention of the 
Liberty party was in progress, an attempt was made to capt- 
ure one Jerry McHenry, an undoubted fugitive; but the 
Vigilance Committee, under efficient leadership, succeeded in 
rescuing him out of the hands of his captors. At this out- 
come there was much exultation among the anti-slavery 
people, as also when later the prosecution instituted against 
eighteen of the rescuers ended in a failure to convict. It is 
Vorthy of note that Seward was the first to sign the bond of 
those indicted; and that Gerrit Smith, then a member of 
Congress, made a defiant speech in the fall of 1852 in Canan- 
daigua, where the trial of one of the rescuers was going on.^ 

Such incidents, together with the aggravation caused by 
the removal of fugitives successfully seized, made it plain 
that the compromise was not the " finality " that the poli- 
ticians declared it to be; and that the Whig and Demo- 
cratic parties chose to decree it in their national platforms in 
the summer of 1852. The principles of political opposition 

1 S. J. May, Some Recollections of our Anti-Slavery Conflict, p. 349. 

" Ibid., pp. 373-384 ; Frothingham, Life of Gerrit Smith, p. 117 ; 
McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, pp. 48, 49 ; Wilson, Bise and Fall of the Slave 
Power, Vol. II, pp. 327, 328. 



determined by the conditions of the time were uttered by the 
convention of the Free Soil party, with which many of the 
underground operators were now allied, in the words : " No 
more slave states, no more slave territories, no nationalized 
slavery, and no national legislation for the extradition of 
slaves." The issue of the presidential campaign in the elec- 
tion of Pierce, a compromise Democrat, marks only a tempo- 
rary disturbance in the progress of sentiment, due to the 
desire of the country to have rest, the disinclination of many 
Whigs to support their own candidate, General Winfield 
Scott, and the policy of acquiescence he represented ; and 
the solidarity of action among the Democrats, who were 
generally satisfied both with their principles and their 

As it was the Fugitive Slave Law that brought the North 
face to face with slavery nationalized, so it was the Fugitive 
Slave Law that occasioned, in the spring of 1852, the produc- 
tion of Uncle TorrCs Odbin, a novel the great political signifi- 
cance of which has been generally acknowledged. The 
observations and experience that made possible for Mrs. Har- 
riet Beecher Stowe the writing of this remarkable book were 
gained by her while living at Cincinnati, where she was 
enabled to study the effects of slavery. While thus a resi- 
dent on the borders of Kentucky, she numbered among her 
friends slaveholders on the one side of the Ohio River and 
abolitionists on the other. At the time of her first trip 
across the Ohio in 1833, she visited an estate, which is de- 
scribed as that of Colonel Shelby in Uncle Tom's Cabin} 
Her associations and sympathies brought home to her the 
personal aspects of slavery, and her house on Walnut Hills 
early become a station on the Underground Railroad, remain- 
ing so doubtless till 1850, when she removed with her 
husband. Professor Calvin Stowe, to Brunswick, Maine. 

During the intervening years she was unconsciously glean- 
ing incidents and scenes and discovering characters for her 
future book. The woful experiences of her midnight 
visitors, whose hunger for freedom rose superior to every 
other need, awoke her deepest compassion, and the neighbor- 

1 C. E. stowe, Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, pp. 71, 72. 



hood in whicli she lived, nay, even her own household, sup- 
plied the circumstances and adventures depicted in the lives 
of some of her most admirable characters. Mrs. Stowe her- 
self declared Uncle Tom's Cabin to be "a collection and 
arrangement of real incidents, — of actions really performed, 
of words and expressions really uttered, — grouped together 
with reference to a general result, in the same manner that 
the mosaic artist groups his fragments of various stones into 
one general picture." ^ For example she points out that the 
service of Senator Bird in the incident of the novel in which 
Eliza escapes from her pursuers Tom Locker and Marks had 
its counterpart in the service rendered a negro girl in her 
own employ by Professor Stowe and his brother-in-law, 
Henry Ward Beecher, in 1839. This girl was secretly con- 
veyed northward by her escorts a distance of twelve miles 
to the house of John Van Zandt, another station-keeper of 
the Underground Road; and Van Zandt it was who "per- 
formed the good deed which the author in her story ascribes 
to Van Tromp."2 Concerning the leading Quaker charac- 
ter in her book Mrs. Stowe says : " The character of Rachel 
Halliday was a real one, but she has passed away to her 
reward. Simeon Halliday, calmly risking fine and imprison- 
ment for his love to God and man, has had in this country 
many counterparts among the sect. The writer had in mind, 
at the time of writing, the scenes in the trial of Thomas 
Garet, of Wilmington, Delaware, for the crime of hiring a 
hack to convey a mother and four children from Newcastle 
jail to Wilmington, a distance of five miles." ^ The thrilling 
adventures of Eliza in escaping across the Ohio River with 
her child in her arms as the ice was breaking up was an 
actual occurrence that took place fifty miles above Cincin- 
nati, at Ripley, an initial station of an important underground 

1 A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, p. 5 ; Charles Dudley Warner in The 
Atlantic Monthly, September, 1896, p. 312. 

" A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, p. 23 ; C. E. Stowe, Life of Sarriet 
Beecher iStowe, p. 93 ; Uncle Tom's Cabin ; Howe, Historical Collections 
of Ohio, Vol. II, pp. 102, 103 ; J. W. Shuckers, Life of Chase, p. 53. 

° A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, p. 54. 

* Beminiscences of Levi Coffin, pp. 147-151 ; Howe, Historical Collections 


By tlie combination of such elements under the crystalliz- 
ing influence of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Mrs. Stowe 
made her story. Intent on having the people of the North 
understand what the " system " was, about which so many 
seemed apathetic, she set to work in response to appeals to 
her to take up her pen. The result, wholly unexpected, was 
the production of a book that did for the whole population of 
the free states what the Underground Railroad had been 
doing for a part only : the author made real the sin of slavery 
to the consciences of freemen, by an object-lesson in the pos- 
sible evils of slavery and the desire of the slave to be free. 
In Harriet Beecher Stowe the thousands of fugitive slaves 
that had been unwittingly acting as missionaries in the cause 
of freedom through the earlier years found at last a champion 
whose words carried their touching story to the multitudes. 
The disheartening circumstances under which her novel had 
been composed and the exhausted condition in which the 
author found herself at its conclusion did not permit her to 
look for anything but the failure of her undertaking. As 
she finished the last proof-sheets " it seemed to her that there 
was no hope; that nobody would hear, nobody would read, 
nobody would pity; that this frightful system, which had 
already pursued its victims into the free States, might at last 
even threaten them in Canada."^ But the success of the 
book was immediate. Three thousand copies were sold on 
the first day of publication, and more than three hundred 
thousand in this country within the year.^ 

The political effect of the novel has been disparaged by a 
few writers, because it did not cause anti-slavery gains in the 
national election occurring in the fall of 1852. Thus George 
Ticknor wrote in December of that year, " It deepens the 
horror of servitude, but it does not affect a single vote."^ 

of Ohio, Vol. n, p. 104 ; see also article on "Early Cincinnati," by Judge 
Joseph Cox in the Cincinnati Times-Star, Peb. 6, 1891 ; a report of " The 
Story of Eliza," as told by the Rev. S. G. W. Rankin, printed in the Boston 
Transcript, Nov. 30, 1895, an article on Harriet Beecher Stowe, in the 
Cincinnati Unqnirer, Nov. 3, 1895, p. 17. 

^ Quoted by Charles Dudley Warner in The Atlantic Monthly, Septem- 
ber, 1896, p. 315. 

" Ibid. » Life of George Ticknor, Vol. I, p. 286. 


This was certainly true, for the mass of Northerners were 
resting in the belief that a substantial political settlement had 
been reached in the great compromise. It was not to be 
expected that this belief, which was the outcome of weeks of 
strenuous discussion, was to be easily tossed aside under the 
emotional stimulus of a novel. The immediate effect of 
Uncle Torris Cabin as a political agency lay in the renewal on 
a vast scale of the consideration of the question of slavery, 
which the compromise had been thought by so many to have 
settled. Its remote effect, which did not show itself until 
the latter part of the decade 1850-1860 has been best ex- 
plained by the historian, James Ford Rhodes. This writer 
says, " The mother's opinion was a potent factor in politics 
between 1852 and 1860, and boys in their teens in the one 
year were voters in the other. It is often remarked that 
previous to the war the Republican party attracted the great 
majority of school-boys, and that the first voters were an 
important factor in its final success; . . . the youth of 
America whose first ideas on slavery were formed by reading 
Uncle TorrCs Cabin were ready to vote with the party whose 
existence was based on opposition to an extension of the 
great evil." ^ They were also ready to fight for the cause of 
union and of freedom in 1861. 

Soon after the publication of Mrs. Stowe's book, Sumner 
began his movement in the Senate to secure the repeal of 
the Fugitive Slave Law. In May, 1852, he presented a memo- 
rial from the Society of Friends in New England, asking for 
its repeal; 2 in July he offered a resolution instructing the 
Committee on Judiciary to report a bill for this purpose;^ 
and in August he sought to secure his end by proposing an 
amendment to the civil and diplomatic appropriations bill. * 
In the speech made at the time he presented this amendment, 
a speech said to rank with that of Webster on the Compromise 
in 1850 in the popular interest it aroused, Sumner pointed 
to the example of Washington, who let one of his slaves 
remain unmolested in New Hampshire rather than " excite a 

1 History of the United States, Vol. I, pp. 284, 285. 

" Peirce, Life of Sumner, Vol. Ill, p. 283. 

» Ibid., p. 289. 1 Ibid., p. 292. 


mob or riot, or even uneasy sensations in the minds of well- 
disposed citizens." The execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, 
he asked Congress to note, involved mobs, cruelty and vio- 
lence everywhere its enforcement was tried. The wonderful 
reception given Uncle Tom's Cabin was, he thought, an ex- 
pression of the true public sentiment. " A woman, inspired 
by Christian genius, enters the lists, like another Joan of Arc, 
and with marvellous powers sweeps the chords of the popu- 
lar heart. Now melting to tears, and now inspiring to rage, 
her work everywhere touches the conscience, and makes the 
slave-hunter more hateful."^ He saw the import of the 
appeal of fugitive slaves to Northern communities for pro- 
tection and liberty. " For them every sentiment of humanity 
is aroused. Rude and ignorant they may be, but in their very 
efforts for freedom they claim kindred with all that is noble 
in the past. Romance has no stories of more thrilling inter- 
est; classical antiquity has preserved no examples of advent- 
ure and trial more worthy of renown. They are among the 
heroes of our age. Among them are those whose names will 
be treasured in the annals of their race. By eloquent voice 
they have done much to make their wrongs known, and to 
secure the respect of the world. History will soon lend her 
avenging pen. Proscribed by you during life, they will pro- 
scribe you through all time. Sir, already judgment is begin- 
ning ; a righteous public sentiment palsies your enactment." ^ 
Through his denunciation of the law, his justification of 
those who aided the fugitive, and his recognition of the power 
of the fugitive's appeal, Sumner may be said to have become the 
representative and spokesman in the Senate of fugitive slaves 
and their Northern friends. How closely he identified him- 
self with their cause is indicated by his determined efforts 

1 Peirce, Life of Sumner, Vol. in, pp. 296, 297 ; Congressional Globe, 
Vol. XXV, p. 1112. 

2 Congressional Globe, Vol. XXV, p. 1112 ; Peirce, Life of Sumner, Vol. 
m, p. 297. 

In a public speech made in 1850 Mr. Garrison had this to say, " Who are 
among our ablest speakers ? Who are the best qualified to address the public 
mind on the subject of slavery ? Your fugitive slaves, — your Douglasses, 
Browns and Bibbs, — who are astonishing aU with the cogency of their words 
and the power of their reasoning." Life of Garrison, Vol. HI, p. 311. 


to secure the repeal of the obnoxious law, efforts repeated in 
July, 1854, and February, 1855, and carried by him to a 
successful issue in 1864.^ 

The action of public sentiment in the Northern states, 
which, he said, palsied the Fugitive Slave Law, was accom- 
panied, during the decade from 1850 to 1860, by tokens of 
open violation of the law, defiant resolutions adopted by mass- 
meetings, and obstructional legislation passed by various free 
states ; the spirit of nullification was thus aroused in many 
localities north of Mason and Dixon's line. The demands of 
character and humanity had long been obeyed by many men 
and women for whom any compromise involving the continu- 
ance in slavery of their fellow-men was a dreadful crime. 
These persons had refused to yield obedience to that statute 
which in their belief was subversive of the "higher law." 
Under the action of causes that have been discussed in 
earlier chapters, the sentiment that had developed the secret 
and illicit traffic along numerous lines of the Underground 
Railroad became more obtrusive and less regardful of con- 
gressional legislation. Besides participating in the pubhc 
and legitimate activities of anti-slavery societies, and sharing 
in the organization of the Liberty and Free Soil parties, the 
abolitionists formed vigilance committees in various communi- 
ties, the avowed purpose of which was to thwart the Fugitive 
Slave Act; and while these bodies held their meetings in 
secret and guarded the names of their members, it was often 
a matter of common report in those localities that certain 
well-known men of the neighborhood were active members. 
It was the Vigilance Committee of Syracuse that rescued 
Jerry McHenry from custody of the officers, in the presence 
of a great crowd ; and the leaders in the affair, Gerrit Smith, 
Charles A. Wheaton and Samuel J. May, far from seeking 
oblivion, published an acknowledgment in the newspapers 
that they had aided all they could in the rescue of Jerry, 
were ready for trial, and would rest their defence on the 
" unconstitutionality and extreme wickedness " of the Fugi- 
tive Slave Law. None of these men were tried. The citizens 


1 Peirce, Life of Sumner, Vol. Ill, p. 309, foot-note ; Vol. IV, pp. 71, 175- 



of Onondaga County held a mass-convention in approval of 
the liberation of the negro, and unanimously adopted resolu- 
tions justifying and applauding the act.^ 

From this time on till the outbreak of the Civil War bold 
and open opposition to the authority of the federal law is a 
purpose not to be mistaken or overlooked. The state reports 
of the Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Anti-Slavery societies 
boasted of the steadily increasing numbers of fugitives aided 
by abolitionists at many centres, and heaped reproaches on 
the judges and commissioners that gave decisions adverse to 
runaways.^ Fugitive slave cases were stubbornly contested 
in the courts on the ground that the law of 1850 was uncon- 
stitutional. The series of cases in which the law was sub- 
jected to the penetrating criticism of some of the ablest 
lawyers in the country is a long and interesting one ; nothing 
in the history of the times more clearly shows the effect of 
the Underground Railroad in rousing ever-widening indigna- 
tion at the hunt for fugitives.^ 

In the spring of 1854 two cases, one in Wisconsin and the 
other in Massachusetts, served to show the pitch to which 
the spirit of resistance among the most responsible citizens 
could rise in both the West and the East. On March 10, 
1854, Joshua Glover, who was living near Racine, Wisconsin, 
was arrested as a fugitive slave by United States deputy 
marshals and the claimant, B. W. Garland, of St. Louis. 
After a severe struggle Glover was knocked down, placed in 
a wagon, driven to Milwaukee, and there lodged in jail. 
The news of the capture reached Racine in a few hours, and 
a popular meeting, larger than ever before held in the town, 
assembled on the court-house square to take action. At this 
meeting it was resolved to secure Glover a fair trial in Wis- 
consin; and it was voted, "That inasmuch as the Senate of 
the United States has repealed all compromises adopted by 
the Congress of the United States,* we, as citizens of Wis- 

' S. J. May, Some Recollections of our Anti- Slavery Conflict, pp. 380, 381. 
Mr. May says another convention was held ten days later to condemn the 
action of the rescuers, and did so, but not without dissent. 

' See the reports after 1850. ' For selected cases see Appendix B, p. 372. 

* The Kansas-Nebraska legislation, repealing the Missouri Compromise of 
1820, which was at this time before Congress, is here referred to. 


consin, are justified in declaring, and do declare, the slave- 
catching law of 1850 disgraceful and also repealed." This 
was but one of many nullifying resolutions adopted about 
this time in various parts of the North, although most of the 
resolutions were somewhat less extreme in statement.^ 

At an afternoon meeting the deliberations ended in the 
decision of about a hundred citizens of Racine to take boat at 
once for Milwaukee. Upon arrival this delegation found the 
latter city in an uproar. A meeting of five thousand persons 
had already appointed a Committee of Vigilance to see that 
Glover had a fair trial, and this demonstration had led the 
authorities to call for the local militia to preserve order ; but 
the militia did not appear. Such was now the temper of the 
crowd that it could be satisfied with nothing less than the 
immediate release of the prisoner. Glover was therefore 
demanded, but, as he was not forthcoming, the jail door was 
battered in, the negro brought out, placed in a wagon and 
forwarded to Canada by the Underground Railroad. The 
act of the rescuers was indorsed by the public sentiment of 
the state ; with but few exceptions justified by the news- 
papers. Among the resolutions passed by mass-meetings 
held to take action against the Kansas-Nebraska bill, then 
pending in Congress, there was usually one thanking the 
rescuers for their conduct. 

Remembering with satisfaction the deliverance of Jerry, a 
special convention assembled at Syracuse, New York, on 
March 22, 1854, and sent a congratulatory message to Mil- 
waukee and Racine, offering to join them and all the sister 
cities of the North in a " holy confederacy, which . . . 
shall swear that no broken-hearted fugitive shall ever again 
be consigned to slavery from the North, under the accursed 
act of 1850." A state convention met at Milwaukee, April 
13 and 14, which was attended by delegates from all the 
populated districts. This assembly adopted a number of 
resolutions, several of which were quotations from the Vir- 
ginia and Kentucky resolutions, including the famous one 

1 Vroman Mason on "The Fugitive Slave Law in Wisconsin, with Refer- 
ence to Nullification Sentiment," in the Proceedings of the State Historical 
Society of Wisconsin, 1895, pp. 122, 123. 


declaring " that, as in other cases of compact among parties 
having no common judge, each party has an equal right to 
judge for itself, as well of infractions, as of the mode and 
measure of redress." The Fugitive Slave Law was pro- 
nounced unconstitutional, and aid was promised the rescuers 
of Glover. 

It is interesting to note that at this convention a state 
league was also formed, which has been called a forerunner 
of the Republican party in Wisconsin. 

The Supreme Court of the state was soon given an oppor- 
tunity to place itself on record with regard to the validity 
of the federal law. The case of one of the rescuers, Sherman 
M. Booth, came before it for decision. In passing judgment 
the court showed itself to be in line with the sentiment 
of the state, for it declared the act of 1850 unconstitutional ; 
the principal grounds assigned were the absence of congres- 
sional power to legislate on the subject of the surrender 
of fugitives from labor, the improper conferring of judicial 
authority upon commissioners, and the viciousness of depriv- 
ing a person of his liberty 'without due process of law.' 
Booth was, of course, discharged. But the matter was not 
dropped here. The United States District Court now ob- 
tained jurisdiction of the case ; the jury found the prisoner 
guilty, and the judge sentenced him to imprisonment for 
one month, and to pay a fine of |1,000 and the costs of 
prosecution — in all, $1,451. The news of the conviction 
caused great excitement ; denunciatory meetings were again 
the order of the day; and money was subscribed for the 
further defence of the prisoners. Some of the resolutions 
passed at this time did not stop short of asserting the readi- 
ness of the people to maintain their cause with the bayonet. 
Application was made to the Supreme Court of the state for 
a writ of habeas corpus, and Booth, together with a col- 
league, Rycraft, was again released. 

The controversy now came before the Supreme Court at 
Washington, and on petition of the Attorney-General a writ 
of error was granted by that tribunal to be served on the 
Supreme Court of Wisconsin. The state court, however, 
refused to obey this writ. At length, on March 6, 1857, 


the United States Supreme Court assumed jurisdiction, in 
an unusual way, acting on the basis of a certified copy of 
proceedings, which did not appear upon the official record. 
At the December term, 1858, the judgment of the Supreme 
Court of Wisconsin was reversed, and that court was directed 
to return Booth into federal custody. Again the state court 
would not yield obedience. Booth was therefore rearrested 
by the United States marshal, March 1, 1860, and was con- 
fined in the custom-house at Milwaukee. The friends of 
the prisoner once more applied to the state Supreme Court 
for a writ of habeas corpus, but, failing to get it on account 
of a change in the personnel of the court, they did not rest 
until they had rescued him from the government prison five 
months later. On October 8 Booth was again arrested, and 
this time he remained in prison until, under the pressure 
brought to bear upon President Buchanan, he was pardoned 
just before Lincoln's inauguration.^ 

Notwithstanding the obstinacy of the highest state court 
in refusing to carry out the commands of the highest United 
States court, the decision rendered by the latter in Booth's 
case was of great importance. It clearly defined for the 
first time the limits of state authority and disclosed the 
powerlessness of state courts to override the jurisdiction 
granted to the federal courts by the Constitution of the 
United States. 

The people of Wisconsin, however, were unwilling to 
recognize this fact. Having enacted a personal liberty law 
in 1857, they made Byron Paine, a young lawyer, who bad 
taken a prominent part in the defence of Booth, their candi- 
date in 1859 for associate justice of the Supreme Court, and 
elected him on a combined anti-slavery and state rights issue. 
Thus the state maintained its ground until the eve of the 
Civil War. Then it relinquished it to assist in coercing 
South Carolina and other Southern states from their seces- 
sion, the right of which these states defended by the same 
doctrine of state sovereignty .^ 

1 Atileman vs. Booth ; for references see Appendix B, 62, Glover rescue 
case, p. 374. 

2 This account of Booth's case is in the main a condensation of the excel- 


The Glover rescue occurred while the Kansas-Nebraska 
Act was pending in Congress. The attempted rescue of 
Burns came just after this piece of legislation, already passed 
by the Senate, had been voted by the House. This measure, 
which set aside the Missouri Compromise prohibiting slavery 
from all the Louisiana territory lying north of 36° 30' north 
latitude, except that included within the State of Missouri, 
deeply stirred public feeling in the free states : thus the 
violence of the demonstrations in the Booth and Burns cases 
was in some measure a protest against Douglas legislation. 
Burns was arrested in Boston on May 24, 1854, under 
a warrant granted by the United States commissioner. He 
felt his case to be hopeless, and so told Richard H. Dana, Jr., 
and Theodore Parker; but they urged him to make a de- 
fence, and prevailed on the commissioner to postpone the 
hearing. Boston was soon ablaze with indignation kindled 
in part by the inflammatory handbills scattered broadcast by 
members of the Vigilance Committee. These handbills con- 
tained invectives against the "kidnapper," and expressed 
a sentiment prevalent in New England, as in other parts of 
the North, when they declared "the compromises trampled 
upon by the slave power when in the path of slavery are 
to be crammed down the throat of the North." 

In response to messages from the Vigilance Committee 
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, A. Bronson Alcott and 
others hurried to Boston to consult with the leaders there 
on what was best to be done. A mass-meeting had been 
called for Friday evening, the 26th, to be held in Faneuil Hall, 
and it was now planned to make an attack, at the height of 
this meeting, on the court-house, where Burns was in dur- 
ance, and " send the whole meeting pell-mell to Court Square, 
ready to fall in behind the leaders and bring out the slave." 

lent and exhaustive discussion given by Mr. Vroman Mason in the Proceed- 
ings of the State Sistorical Society, 1895, pp. 117-144. Other material will 
be found in The Story of Wisconsin, 1890, by R. G. Thwaites, pp. 247-254 ; 
A Complete Beeord of the John Olin Family, 1893, by C. C. Olin, pp. liii- 
bmv; the Liberator, April 7 and 24, 1854; 3 Wisconsin Beports, pp. 1-64; 
21 Howard's Beports, p. 606 et seq. ; Wilson, Bise and Fall of the Slave 
Power, Vol. II, pp. 444-446. 


The city was in a state of wild excitement when the time for 
action came, and it was natural that in the confusion existing 
some of the arrangements should miscarry. The crowd 
that filled Faneuil Hall was so dense as to cut off all com- 
munication with the speakers on the platform, and prevented 
concerted action. When, under the impassioned oratory of 
Phillips, Parker and others, the audience had given evidences 
of its readiness to undertake the rescue, the announcement 
that an attack upon the court-house was about to begin was 
made from the rear of the hall, and it was proposed that the 
meeting should adjourn to Court Square. Phillips had not 
received notice of the project, and the other speakers had not 
fully comprehended it. The alarm was thought to be a scheme 
to break up the meeting and was not followed by the decisive 
action necessary to success. 

Arriving at the court-house the crowd found a small party 
under the lead of Higginson, Stowell and a negro battering in 
a door with a stick of timber. Entrance was gained by a few 
only, — who found themselves in the hands of the police, — 
while the concourse outside was daunted at the outset by the 
mysterious killing of one of the marshal's deputies. The 
arrest of several of Higginson's companions followed, and a 
renewal of the assault, if there was any danger of such a thing, 
was prevented by the approach of two companies of artillery 
and two more of marines ordered out by the mayor to pre- 
serve the peace. Troops were retained at the court-house 
during the examination of Burns, and it is reported by an eye- 
witness that the seat of justice " had the air of a beleaguered 
fortress." On the 2d of June Commissioner Loring remanded 
the fugitive to slavery. 

The presence in Boston of a multitude of visitors attracted 
thither by the annual meeting of the New England Anti- 
Slavery Society, the state convention of the Free Soil party, 
and the spring meetings of the religious bodies, as well as by 
the arrest of the negro, led the authorities to take all precau- 
tions to forestall any fresh attempt at rescue when the fugi- 
tive should be sent out of the city. Accordingly, over a 
thousand soldiers with loaded muskets, and furnished with 
a cannon loaded with grape-shot, were detailed to assist the 


city police and a large number of deputy marshals to carry 
out the law. In the procession that accompanied Burns to 
the United States revenue cutter, by which he was to be 
carried back to Virginia, there were four platoons of marines 
and a battalion of artillery, besides the marshal's civil posse 
of one hundred and twenty-five men. Fifty thousand people 
lined the streets along which this procession passed, and 
greeted it with hisses and groans, while over their heads were 
displayed many emblems of mourning and shame. It is little 
wonder that the Enquirer of Richmond, Virginia, commenting 
with satisfaction on the rendition of Burns, was led to add, 
"but a few more such victories and the South is undone."* 
Such was the state of public opinion in Massachusetts that 
the Board of Overseers of Harvard College declined to con- 
firm the election of Commissioner Loring as a member of the 
Harvard faculty; and the people petitioned, until their re- 
quest was granted, for his removal from the office of judge of 

Similar hostility to the Fugitive Slave Law existed in Illi- 
nois. John Reynolds, who had been governor of the state, 
wrote about 1855 that when President Jackson issued his 
proclamation in December, 1832, condemning nullification in 
South Carolina, the legislature of Illinois hailed it with grati- 
fication and pledged the state to sustain the executive in his 
purpose to enforce the federal laws at all hazards. Jackson's 
proclamation, he said, had a strong tendency to suppress 
the spirit of nullification throughout the Union. The law of 
1850 had been framed in pursuance of the Constitution, and 
was hailed as the foundation of sectional peace and happiness, 
but " within a few years, a section of the State of Illinois, the 
city of Chicago, is not disposed to execute this act of Con- 
gress. The opposition in Illinois to this law is not extensive, 
but confined to a single city, so far as I know. Yet in that 
disaffected district the act is a dead letter. . . ."^ The 
number of centres in Illinois in which the act was disapproved 

1 T. W. Higginson in The Atlantic Monthly, for March, 1897, p. 349-354 ; 
Rhodes, History of the United States, Vol. I, pp. 500-506 ; Wilson, Bise and 
Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. II, pp. 434, 444. 

2 John Reynolds' History of Illinois, 1855, pp. 269-271. 


and violated was far beyond the knowledge of ex-Governor 
' In Ohio incidents arising out of the operations of the 
Underground Railroad became the occasions for serious con- 
tests between the state and federal authorities. On May 16, 
1857, the United States deputy marshal for southern Ohio, 
with nine assistants, entered the house of Udney Hyde, near 
Mechanicsburg, Champaign County, in pursuit of a fugitive 
slave. The approach of the posse had been observed by the 
negro, who took refuge in Hyde's garret. Some firing was 
done by both the negro and the marshal, with the result that 
the officer and his party were glad to take their positions 
outside of the house. Here they were soon found by a crowd 
of citizens from the neighboring town, whose sympathies were 
so unmistakably with the fugitive that the pursuers decided 
to leave without delay. Returning twelve days later, they 
were told that the fugitive, Addison White, had gone to 
Canada. Thereupon they arrested several persons in the 
neighborhood on the charge of aiding a slave to escape, and 
set off with these persons ostensibly for Urbana, where the 
examination was to be held. 

Instead of going to Urbana, the party took a southern course 
through Clark and Green counties. The sheriff of Clark 
County, who organized a company to give chase, overtook 
the marshal and his men, and received at their hands a severe 
beating. Bands of angry citizens now scoured the country, 
and, at length, after a skirmish locally known as " the battle 
of Lumbarton," captured the marshal's posse. On the charge 
of assault with intent to kill, the prisoners were placed in 
jail at Springfield. This action occasioned a serious clash 
between the United States District Court for the southern 
district of Ohio and the state courts ; and the federal tri- 
bunal asserted its jurisdiction by releasing the marshal's posse, 
although in the decision rendered it was admitted that there 
" was a question whether the marshal had not exceeded 
authority in the use of unnecessary force." 

So critical had the situation now become that Governor 
Chase determined to have a personal conference with President 
Buchanan and the Secretary of State, General Cass. The 


Governor therefore sent an officer of his staff to "Washington 
to arrange for the meeting, and to say to the Secretary of 
State that Mr. Chase " was as earnest in support of the author- 
ity of the federal government, legitimately exercised, as he 
was in support of the authority of the state ; but that he 
should feel compelled to protect the state officials in the 
exercise of their duties, and the state courts in the exercise 
of their legitimate functions, if it took every man in the state 
to do it." In order to adjust the existing differences before 
they culminated in open hostility between the two govern- 
ments, it was proposed on the part of Mr. Chase that the 
United States district attorney at Cincinnati be instructed 
to drop all suits against citizens of the state, with the under- 
standing that a similar course be followed by the state with 
regard to the marshal and his deputies. At the formal meet- 
ing this was the plan adopted. Thus the affair was amicably 
settled, although it did not fail to leave a deep impression 
on the public mind, and to evoke comments from the press 
indicative of the restiveness of the abolitionists under the 
jurisdiction of United States courts in fugitive slave cases.\ 

Another example of open violation of the Slave Law, 
which resulted in conflict between the federal and state 
courts, exists in the famous Oberlin-Wellington rescue case. 
On September 13, 1858, two slave-catchers, provided with 
the necessary papers, and accompanied by the proper officers, 
an-ested a runaway near the town of Oberlin, in which he had 
been living for more than two years. News of the capture 

1 The Cincinnati Enquirer, the leading Democratic paper of southern 
Ohio at the time, said of the contention arising out of the attempted arrest 
of Addison Wliite: "The designation of the attorney-general by Governor 
Chase to aid the lawyer retained by the sheriff of Clark County, is equivalent 
to a declaration of war on the part of Chase and his abolition crew against 
the United States Courts. Let war come, the sooner the better." Quoted 
in the Life of Chase, by J. W. Schuckers, p. 179, foot-note. Material relat- 
ing to the Addison White case will be found in Shuckers, Life of Chase, 
pp. 177-182 ; Warden, Life of Chase, pp. 350, 351 ; Beer, History of Clark 
County, Ohio ; the same quoted by Henry Howe in his Historical Collections 
of Ohio, Vol. I, pp. 384-386. The vyriter has also had the advantage of a 
conversation with Mrs. Amanda Shepherd (the daughter of Udney Hyde), 
who was an eye-witness of the attempts to capture White at her father's 


was brouglit to Oberlin by two young men, who saw the 
negro in the hands of his captors as they were proceeding 
toward Wellington. A large crowd of men, among whom 
were several students and a professor of Oberlin College, 
took the trail of the slave-catchers, found them at Wellington, 
and without violence freed the slave. The arrest of a large 
number of the rescuers followed, and their arraignment took 
place before the United States District Court at Cleveland. 
Public sentiment was clearly with the prisoners, and their 
counsel were men of high rank in their profession. Two of 
the offenders were tried and convicted. On account of the 
state of feeling at the time, the legal proceedings were de- 
nounced as political trials. Mass-meetings were held through- 
out eastern Ohio to express the sympathy of the people with 
the rescuers, and to cast odium on the federal courts. The 
Dred Scott decision, recently rendered by the Supreme Court 
at "Washington, called down upon that tribunal much con- 
demnation. At an immense mass-convention held in Cleve- 
land, May 24, 1859, resolutions were adopted, which accepted 
the compact theory of government voiced in the Virginia and 
Kentucky resolutions, declared the equal right of each party 
to the compact "to judge for itself, as well of infractions, 
as of the mode and measure of redress," and declared the 
Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 to be void because, "in the 
opinion of this assembly, passed by Congress in the exercise 
of powers improperly assumed." ^ A fund denominated " the 
Fund of Liberty" was created, to be applied in defence of 
the Oberlin rescuers, and a committee was appointed to take 
action for the release of those persons. 

Meanwhile the grand jury of Lorain County — the county 
in which the fugitive had been seized — had indicted four of 
the slave-catchers under a personal liberty law passed by Ohio 
in 1857.^ This procedure led to negotiations, which finally 
terminated in a compromise between the executors and the 
opponents of the Fugitive Slave Act. On the one hand the 
United States authorities agreed to stop prosecution in 

1 J. R. SMpherd, History of the Oberlin- Wellington Rescue. The resolu- 
tions appear at pp. 253, 254. 

2 Ibid., pp. 231-235. 


the remaining rescue cases, while on the other hand the 
Lorain County people consented to dismiss the suits against 
the so-called kidnappers. This conclusion of the matter was 
regarded as a victory for the " higher law " by the friends of 
the Oberlin parties, and the release of the prisoners was her- 
alded in Cleveland by the firing of a hundred guns. Their 
return to Oberlin was signalized by a celebration in their 
honor. The Cleveland Plain Dealer said the government 
had been " beaten at last with law, justice, and facts all on 
its side, and Oberlin with its rebellious Higher Law creed is 
triumphant." ^ 

That these events were not without their political influence 
is apparent from the adoption of a resolution at the great Cleve- 
land convention above mentioned asserting that the chief re- 
Hance of freedom in the United States rested in the Republican 
party .2 It is worthy of note also that this party at its state 
convention, held in June, demanded the repeal of the Fugitive 
Slave Act.^ It has been already pointed out that some of the 
counsel of the Oberlin rescuers early received places of politi- 
cal preferment, partly at least in consequence of distinction 
won by them in the defence of those known to be guilty of 
violating the law of 1850.* .^ 

The enactment of personal liberty laws by various TSorth- 
ern states, with the purpose of impairing the efficiency of the 
Fugitive Slave laws, is characteristic of the period during 
which the underground system had its most rapid expansion, 
namely, the two decades from 1840 to 1860. These laws may 
be fairly considered as the palpable but guarded expression of 
an opposition that was free to go to the full length in its mid- 
night operation of the Underground Road. During the period 
ijadicated occurred the series of celebrated fugitive slave 
cases, beginning with the Latimer case in 1842 ; and the pre- 
cautions, rarely neglected by the friend of the slave, were often 
forgotten or spurned in the excitement of the instant or in 
the exaltation of wrath. The rigorous character of the law 
of 1850 acted in two ways north of Mason and Dixon's line : 

1 The Plain Dealer, July 6, 1859, quoted by Shipherd, p. 267. 

' Shipherd, History of the Oberlin- Wellington Bescue, pp. 253, 254. 

' The Cleveland Herald, June 3, 1859. * Chapter IX, p. 282. 


first, it created a reaction against slavery and brought many 
recruits into underground work to aid the rapidly increasing 
number of escaping slaves; second, in connection with the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, it led public sentiment in 
many states to provide additional safeguards in the form of 
personal liberty bills for the protection of fugitives and their 
helpers.^ These bills ran counter in spirit if not always in 
letter to legislation that was held by the United States Su- 
preme Court to be in keeping with the constitutional clause 
providing for the recovery of fugitive slaves. In principle 
they were, therefore, like the nullification ordinance of 

While the system of the Underground Railroad was 
thus expanding and pressing everywhere against legislative 
restraints, there arose a man who sought to solve the whole 
slavery problem in his own rash way. When John Brown 
led a company of slaves from Missouri to Canada despite 
the attempts to prevent him ; and when soon thereafter he 
attempted to execute his plan for the general liberation of 
slaves, he showed the extreme to which the aid to fugitives 
might lead. The influence of Brown's training in Under- 
ground Railroad work is plain in the methods and plans he 
followed, which have given him a place in American history. 
Early convinced that action was the thing needed to help the 
bondman, he set himself to find a way of effecting the destruc- 
tion of slavery. In devising his scheme he seems to have 
considered an underground channel of escape as a necessary 
feature of it for those lacking the courage to join a move- 

1 Joel Parker, Personal Liberty Laws and Slavery in the Territories, 1861, 
pp. 10, 11. 

2 J. B. Robinson, Pictures of Slavery and Anti-Slavery, 1863, pp. 332, 
333 ; M. G. McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 70 ; Rhodes, History of the United 
States, "Vol. II, p. 74. Mr. Rhodes says of the personal liberty bills : " They 
were dangerously near the nullification of a United States law, and had not 
the provocation seemed great, would not have been adopted by people who 
had drunk in with approval Webster's idea of nationality. . . . While they 
were undeniably conceived in a spirit of bad faith towards the South, they 
were a retaliation for the grossly bad faith involved in the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise. Nullification cannot be defended, but in a balancing 
of the vreongs of the South and the North, it must be averred that in this 
case the provocation was vastly greater than the retaliation." 


(From a [.hotofrai.h in the possession of the Kansas State Historical SocietT.1 


ment sure to involve them in armed conflict witli their mas- 
ters. This feature was designated the " Subterranean P^ss 
Way." The varying character of the testimony in regard to 
this feature, as well as the natural change of view that took 
place in Brown's mind with the passage of the years, does 
not permit one to say definitely what importance was attached 
by the liberator to the Pass Way as a part of his plan, but its 
utility in reducing the value of slaves must have been appar- 
ent to him. That the whole movement he contemplated 
would have the effect of making slave property unstable he 
showed when speaking of the initiative of the movement in 
Virginia. Brown said : " If the slaves could in this way be 
driven out of the county, the whole system would be weak- 
ened in that State." ^ In this matter the judgment of the 
liberator was not at fault, for it has been estimated that his 
attack on Harper's Ferry caused the value of slave prop- 
erty in Virginia to decline to the extent of 110,000,000.2 
That Brown had the sympathy of a large number of persons 
in the North, including some public men, was a circumstance 
calculated to make a deeper impression on the minds of the 
Southern men generally than this decline in the price of Vir- 
ginia slaves. 

1 Hinton, John Brown and Sis Men, pp. 31, 32. 

2 Ibid., p. 30. 



The effect of Underground Railroad operations in steadily 
withdrawing from the South some of its property and thus 
causing constant irritation to slave-owners and slave-traders 
has already been commented upon. The persons losing 
slaves of course regarded their losses as a personal and unde- 
served misfortune. Yet, considering the question broadly 
from the standpoint of their own interests, the work of the 
underground system was a relief to the masters and to the 
South. The possibility of a servile insurrection was a dread- 
ful thing for Southern minds to contemplate ; but they could 
not easily dismiss the terrible scenes enacted in San Domingo 
during the years 1791 to 1793 and the three famous uprisings 
of 1800, 1820 and 1831, in South Carolina and Virginia. The 
Underground Railroad had among its passengers such per- 
sons as Josiah Henson, J. W. Loguen, Frederick Douglass, 
Harriet Tubman, William WeUs Brown and Henry Bibb ; it 
therefore furnished the means of escape for persons well quali- 
fied for leadership among the slaves, and thereby lessened the 
danger of an uprising of the blacks against their masters. The 
negro historian, Williams, has said of the Underground Road 
that it served as a " safety-valve to the institution of slavery. 
As soon as leaders arose among the slaves, who refused to 
endure the yoke, they would go North. Had they remained, 
there must have been enacted at the South the direful scenes 
of San Domingo." ^ 

It is difficult to arrive at any satisfactory idea of the actual 
loss sustained by slave-owners through underground channels. 
The charges of bad faith against the free states made in 
Congress by Southern members were sometimes accompanied 

1 History of the Negro Bace in America, Vol. II, pp. 58, 59. 


by estimates of the amount of human property lost on account 
of the indisposition of those living north of Mason and 
Dixon's line to meet the requirements of the fugitive slave 
legislation. Thus as early as 1822, Moore, of Virginia, speak- 
ing in the House in favor of a new fugitive recovery law, 
said that the district he represented lost four or five thousand 
dollars worth of runaway slaves annually.^ In August, 1850, 
Atchison, of Kentucky, informed the Senate that " depreda- 
tions to the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars are 
committed upon the property of the people of the border 
slave states of this Union annually." ^ Pratt, of Maryland, 
said that not less than $80,000 worth of slaves was lost every 
year by citizens of his state.^ Mason, of Virginia, declared 
that the losses of his state were already too heavy to be 
borne, that they were increasing from year to year, and were 
then in excess of $100,000 per year.* Butler, of South 
Carolina, reckoned the annual loss of the Southern section at 
$200,000.5 Clingman, of North Carolina, said that the thirty 
thousand fugitives then reported to be living in the North 
were worth at current prices little less than $15,000,000.^ 
Claiborne, the biographer of General John A. Quitman, 
who was at one time governor of Louisiana, indicated as 
one of the defects of the second Fugitive Slave Law its 
failure to make " provision for the restitution to the South of 
the $30,000,000, of which she had been plundered through 
the 100,000 slaves abducted from her in the course of the 
last forty years " (1810-1850) ; "^ and the same writer stated 
that slavery was rapidly disappearing from the District of 
Columbia at the time of the enactment of the new law, the 
number of slaves "having been reduced since 1840 from 

1 Benton's Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, Vol. VII, p. 296. 

2 Congressional Globe, Thirty-first Congress, First Session, Appendix, 
p. 1601. 

»76td.,p. 1603. 

* Ibid., p. 1605. 

' Von Hoist, Constitutional and Political History of the United States, 
Vol. ni, p. 552. 

' Congressional Globe, Thirty-first Congress, First Session, p. 202. See 
also Von Hoist's work, Vol. Ill, p. 552, foot-note. 

'J. F. H. Claiborne, Life and Correspondence of John A. Quitman, 
Vol. II, p. 28. 


4,694 to 650, by ' underground railroads ' and felonious abduc- 
tions." 1 

The wide divergences among the estimates here given, as 
well as the obvious difiSculty of getting reliable information in 
regard to the number of runaway slaves, renders these figures 
of little use in determining the loss of human property by the 
slaveholding states. Nevertheless, the estimates are valu- 
able in illustrating the character of the complaints that were 
made in Congress, and in enabling one to realize that the 
tenure of slave property in the border states was rendered 
precarious by the operations of the Underground Railroad. 
Can it be thought strange that the disappearance week by 
week and month by month of valuable slaves over the un- 
known routes of the underground system should have pro- 
duced wrath, suspicion and hostility in the minds of people 
who could justly claim to have a constitutional guarantee, 
the laws of Congress, and the decisions of the highest courts 
on their side ? 

In the compendiums of the United States Census for 1850 
and 1860 are some statistics on fugitive slaves, which fall 
far short of the most moderate estimates of the Southerners, 
and j3atly disagree with the testimony gathered from all 
other quarters. The official reports appear to show that the 
number of slaves escaping from their masters was small and 
inconsiderable, that it rapidly decreased, and that it was inde- 
pendent of proximity to a free population. But the cen- 
suses are not only opposed to the evidence, they are on their 
face inadequate. 

If, as those tables indicate, only 1,011 slaves escaped from 
their masters in 1850, and only 803 in 1860, and in the latter 
year only 500 escaped from the border slave states, then it 
becomes impossible to understand the emphasis laid by 
Southern men upon the value of their runaway slaves, the 
steady pressure made by the border states for a more strin- 
gent law that resulted in the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and 
the allegation of bad faith on the part of the North put 

1 J. F. H. Claiborne, Lift and Correspondence of John A. Quitman, 
Vol. II, p. 30. His figures are, of course, not correct. 


forth by the Southern states as a reason for secession. ^ In 
considering the weight to be ascribed to the figures on fugi- 
tive slaves supplied by the census compendiums, it is proper 
to set over against them the showing afforded by the same 
compendiums relative to the decline of the slave population 
in the border slave states during the decade 1850-1860 ; for 
it is to be noted that the compendiums show a marked decline 
in these states, that they show a greater percentage of decline 
in the northernmost counties of these states than in the 
states as a whole, and, what is even more remarkable, that 
the loss appears to have been still greater during this time 
in the four " pan-handle " counties of Virginia than in any of 
the other states referred to, or in the border counties of any 
one of them.2 It can scarcely be suggested that the relatively 
rapid decline of the slave population in the border counties 
was due to larger shipments of slaves to the far South from 
these marginal regions without at the same time suggesting 
that the explanation for such shipments lay in the proximity 
of a free population and the numerous lines of Underground 
Railroad maintained by it. The concurrence of evidence 
from sources other than the census reports, and the agree- 
ment therewith of part of the evidence gathered from these 
reports themselves, constrains one to say that those who com- 
piled the statistics on fugitive slaves did not secure the facts 
in full ; and that the complaints of large losses sustained by 
slave-owners through the befriending of fugitive slaves by 
Northern people, frequently made by Southern representatives 
in Congress and by the South generally, were not without 
sufficient foundation. 

It is natural that there should be great variation among the 
guesses made as to the total number of those indebted for 
liberty to the Underground Road. Very few of the persons 
that harbored runaways were so indiscreet as to keep a 
register of their hunted visitors. Their hospitality was equal 
to aU possible demands, but was kept strictly secret. Under 
these circumstances one should handle all numerical generali- 
zations with caution. 

1 Census of 1860, pp. 11, 12. See Table A, Appendix C, p. 378. 

2 See Tables B and C, Appendix C, p. 379. 



Becobd of Fugitives aided during Five Mokihs. 


Kepi bt Damibl Osbobk, of Aluu Cbebk Seiilembnt, Ohio. 


By rare good fortune the writer has found a single leaf of 
a diary kept by Daniel Osborn, a Friend or Quaker, of 
Alum Creek Settlement, Delaware County, Ohio, which 
giyes a record of the blacks passing through that neighbor- 
hood during an interval of five months, from April 14 to 
September 10, 1844. The accompanying facsimiles, which 
reproduce the two sides of the leaf, show that the number is 
forty-seven. The year in which this memorandum was made 
may be fairly taken as an average year, and the line on which 
this Quaker settlement was a station as a representative 
underground route in Ohio. Now, along Ohio's southern 
boundary there were the initial stations of at least twelve 
important lines of travel, some of which were certainly in 
operation before 1830. Let us consider, as we may properly, 
that the period of operation continued from 1830 to 1860. 
Taking these as the elements for a computation, one may 
reckon that Ohio may have aided not less than 40,000 
fugitives in the thirty years included in our reckoning.^ 
That the number of refugees after 1844 did not decrease is 
indicated by the statement that during one month in the 
year of 1854r-1855 sixty were harbored by one member of the 
Alum Creek Settlement./ It is to be remembered that several 
families of the settlement were engaged in this work.^ 

An illustration of underground activity in the East may be 
ventured. Mr. Robert Purvis, of Philadelphia, states that he 
kept a record of the fugitives that passed through the hands 
of the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia for a long period, 
till the trepidation of his family after the passage of the Fugi- 
tive Slave Bill in 1850 caused him to destroy it. His record 
book showed, he says, an average of one a day sent north- 
ward. In other words, between 1830 and 1860 over 9,000 
runaways were aided in Philadelphia. But we know that the 
Vigilance Committee did not begin this sort of work in the 
Quaker City, and that underground activities there date back 
at least to the time of Isaac T. Hopper's earliest efforts, that 

1 This computation was first printed by the writer in the American Sistori- 
cal Review, April, 1896, pp. 462, 463. 

2 Conversation with M. J. Benedict, L. A. Benedict and others, Alum 
Creek Settlement, Ohio, Dec. 2, 1893. 


is, 1800 and before. We also know that there were many- 
centres round about Philadelphia, some of whose work was 
certainly done independently of that place. 

That the resources of some of the operators in centres in 
the West were being drained almost to exhaustion by the 
demands of the heavy traffic towards the close of the under- 
ground period, distinctly appears in the following letter 
from Col. J. Bowles, of Lawrence, Kansas, to Mr. F. B. 
Sanborn : — 

liAWKENCE April ith 1859 
Mk. F. B. Sanbouen 

Dear Sir at the suggestion of friend Judge Con-way I address 
you these few hastily written lines. I see I am expected to give 
you some information as to the present condition of the U. G. E. B. 
in Kansas or more particularly at the Lawrence depot. In order 
that you may fully understand the present condition of affairs I 
shall ask your permission to relate a small bit of the early history 
of this, the only paying, E. R. in Kansas. 

La-wrence has been (from the first settlement of Kansas) known 
and cursed by all slave holders in and out of Mo. for being an 
abolition town. Missourians have a peculiar faculty for embra/- 
cing every opportunity to denounce, curse, and blow every thing 
they dislike. This peculiar faculty of theirs gave La-svrence great 
notoriety in Mo. especially among the negroes to whom the prin- 
cipal part of their denunciations were directed and on whom they 
were intended to have great effect. I have learned from negroes 
who were emigrating from Mo. that they never would have known 
anything about a land of freedom or that they had a friend in the 
world only from their master's continual abuse of the Lawrence 
abolits. Slaves are usually very cunning and believe about as 
much as they please of what the master is telling him (thoug of 
course he must affect to believe every word) knowing it is to the 
master's interest to keep hun ignorant of every thing that would 
make him likely or even wish to be free. 

One old fellow said " when he started to come to La-wrence he 
didn't know if all de peoples in disha town war debbils as ole 
massa had said or not, but dis he did know if he could get dar 
safe old massa was fraid to come arter him, and if dey all should 
prove to be bad as ole massa had said he could lib wid dem bout 
as well as at home." Some few of them were imavoidably taken 


back to Mo. after leaving here for Iowa. Many of them found 
an opportunity to make their escape and bring others with them 
and none ever failed to be a successful missionary in the cause, 
telling every one he had a chance to converse with of the land of 
freedom, and the friends he found in Lawrence. One man I 
know well who has been captured twice and was shot each time 
in resisting his captors (one of whom he killed) told me that he 
was confident he had assisted in the escape of no less than twenty 
five of his fellow beings, and that he had also given information 
or sown the seed that would make a hundred more free men. 
He is now with some others in or about Canada. The last and 
successful escape was made from western Texas where he was 

sent for safe keeping. You can see from the above why L 

has had more than would seem to be her share of this good work 
to do. At first our means were limited and of course could not 
do much but then we were not so extensively known or patron- 
ized. As our means increased we found a corresponding increase 
in opportunity for doing good to the white man as well as the 
black. Kansas has been preeminently a land of charity. The 
friends in the East have helped such objects liberally yet Kansas 
has had much to do for herself in that line. To give you an idea 
of what has been done by the people of this place in U. G. E.. E. 
I'll make a statement of the number of fugitives who have found 
assistance here. In the last four years I am personally known 
to [cognizant of] the fact of nearly three hundred fugitives having 
passed through and received assistance from the abolitionists here 
,at Lawrence. Thus you see we have been continually strained 
to meet the heavy demands that were almost daily made upon us 
, to carry on this (not very) gradual emancipation. 1 usually have 
assisted in collecting or begging money for the needy of either 
class. Many of the most zealous in the cause of humanity com- 
plained (as they had good cause to) that this heavy (and continu- 
ally increasing) tax was interfering with their business to such a 
degree that they could not stand it longer and that other provi- 
sions must be made by which they would be relieved of a portion 
of a burden they had long bourn. This was about the state of 
affairs last Christmas when as you are aware the slaves have a 
few days holiday. Many of them chose this occasion to make a 
visit to Lawrence and during the week some twenty four came to 
our town, five or six of the number brought means to assist them 
on their journey. These were sent on, but the remainder must 
be kept until money could be raised to send them on. f 150 


was the am't necessary to send them to a place of safety. Under 
the circumstances it necessarily took some time to raise that 
am't, and a great many persons had to be applied to. It was not 
enough that the sympathies and love for the cause of humanity 
was appealed to in order to raise money, many had to be argued 
with and shown that the cause was actually in a suffering condi- 
tion and the fugitives were then in town and the number must 
also be made known in order that the person might give liberally. 
Lawrence like most all towns has her bad men pimps and worst 
of all a few democrats, all of whom will do anything for money. 
Somewhere in the ranks of the intimate friends to the cause these 
traitors to God and humanity found a judas who for thirty pieces 
of silver did betray our cause. This was not suspected until after 
the capture of Dr Day. . . . Every thing goes to prove that the 
capture of Day's party was the work of a traitor who though 
suspected has not yet been fairly tried and dealt with as will be 
done as soon as Day is bailed out which will be done [in] a few 

We would like . . . that you plead our cause with those of our 
friends who are disposed to censure us and convince them we are 
still worthy and in great need of their respect and cooperation. 
I am sorry to say (but tis true) that many of the most zealous in 
the cause of humanity have become somewhat discouraged by the 
hard times and the lamentable capture of Day and party and 
cannot be induced to take hold of it and lend a willing hand. 
Never the less the work has went slowly but surely on, until very 
recently. Those who have persevered like many others, have 
found their bottom dollar also of the money so generously con- 
tributed by persons of your notable society. This is partialy 
owing to heavy expenses of the trial of Dr Day and son which 
has been principally borne by the society here and has amounted 
to near $300. Now seems to be our dark day and we are casting 
about to see what can be done. We have some eight or ten fugi- 
tives now on hand who cannot be sent ofE until we get an addition 
to our financial department. This statement of facts has been 
made with a full knowledge of the many calls that is made upon 
your generosity in that quarter. Nothing shall be urged as an 
alternative for we feel confident the case here presented will 
meet with merited assistance sympathy or advice, as you may 
deem best. One word of old Brown and his movement in the 
emancipation cause, and I will have done. I understand from 


some parties who have been corresponding with some persons in 
Boston and other places in behalf of our cause that we could and 
would receive material aid only they are holding themselves in 
readiness to assist Brown. Such men I honor and they show 
themselves worthy the highest regard yet I assure them they do 
not understand Brown's plans for carrying out his cause. I have 
known Brown nearly four years, he is a bold cool calculating and 
far seeing man who is as consciencious as he is smart. He 
" knows the right and dare maintain it." I have talked confiden- 
tially with him on the subject. I know he expressed himself in 
this way as to the effects that he intended to make the master 
pay the way of the slave to the land of freedom. That is he 
intended to take property enough with the slaves to pay all 
expenses. So you see there is not fear of a large demand from 
that quarter. By no means would I be understood as counciling 
not to assist him. No indeed if I counciled at all it would be to 
this effect, render him all the assistance he ever asks for he is 
worthy and his cause is a good one. Others would have been 
with him only they had all they could do in another quarter. I 
feel myself highly honored to be placed where I can with pro- 
priety communicate with a society whom I have only known to 
admire. Hoping what I have written (disconnectedly and badly 
written as it is) may be acceptable and that I may hear from you 
soon. I am very respectfully Your obedient servant 

J. Bowles 
F. B. Sanbourn Lawrence 


The success of the Underground Road in transporting 
negroes beyond the limits of the Southern states was long 
ago commented upon as standing in marked contrast with 
that of the American Colonization Society. This association 
was organized in 1816, and soon had auxiliary societies in 
most of the states. Its object was to remove the free blacks 
and such as might be made free from the South, and colonize 
them on the coast of Africa. By 1857, after an existence of 
forty years, the Colonization Society had sent to Africa 9,502 
emigrants, of whom 3,676 were free-born, 326 self-purchased, 
and 5,500 emancipated on condition of being transported. 
That the informal method of the abolitMfcts was many times 
as efficient as that adopted by the organization mentioned. 


with its treasury and its board of officers, cannot be 

By actual count it is found that the number of persons 
within the limits of Ohio named as underground workers in 
the collections upon which this book is based, is about 1,540 ; 
in all other states taken together the number found is 
1,670. It is proper to observe that these figures are mini- 
mum figures. Death and infirmity, as well as removal, have 
carried many unknown operators beyond the chance of dis- 

It is not surprising that the secret enterprises of this deter- 
mined class of people — so effectual as to make rare the pur- 
suit of a fugitive during the last years of the decade preceding 
the War ^ — should have become the ground of an important 
charge against the North in the crisis of 1860. The violation 
of the Fugitive Slave Law was an accusation upon which South- 
ern members of Congress rang all the changes in the course 
of the violent debates of the sessions of 1860-1861. Thus 
Jones, of Georgia, said in the House in April, 1860 : " It is 
a notorious fact that in a good many of the non-slaveholding 
states the Republican party have regularly organized societies 
— underground railroads — for the avowed purpose of steal- 
ing the slaves from the border States, and carrying them off 
to a free State or to Canada. These predatory bands are 
kept up by private and public subscriptions among the 
Abolitionists ; and in many of the States, I am sorry to say, 
they receive the sanction and protection of the law. The 
border States lose annually thousands and millions of dollars' 
worth of property by this system of larceny that has been 
carried on for years." Polk, of Missouri, whose state had 
suffered not a little through the flight and abduction of 
slaves, made the same complaint in the Senate in January, 
1861 : " Underground railroads are established," said he, 
"stretching from the remotest slaveholding States clear up 

1 E. M. Pettit, Sketches in the History of the Underground Bailroad, 
Introduction, p. xi. Wilson gives an account of the American Colonization 
Society in his Bise and Fall of the Slave Power, Vol. I, pp. 208-222 ; see 
also the Life of Garrison, by his children, Index. 

" McDougaU, Fugitive Slaves, p. 71. 


to Canada. Secret agencies are put to work in the very 
midst of our slaveholding communities to steal away slaves. 
The constitutional obligation for the rendition of the fugitive 
from service is violated. The laws of Congress enacted to 
carry this provision of the Constitution into effect are not 
executed. Their execution is prevented. Prevented, first, 
by hostile and unconstitutional state legislation. Secondly, 
by a vitiated public sentiment. Thirdly, by the concealing 
of the slave, so that the United States law cannot be made 
to reach him. And when the runaway is arrested under the 
fugitive slave law — which, however, is seldom the case — 
he is very often rescued. . . . This lawlessness is felt with 
special seriousness in the border slave States. The under- 
ground railroads start mostly from these States. Hundreds 
of thousands of dollars are lost annually. And no State 
loses more heavily than my own. Kentucky, it is estimated, 
' loses annually as much as 1200,000. The other border States 
no doubt lose in the same ratio, Missouri much more. But 
all these losses and outrages, all this disregard of constitu- 
tional obligation and social duty, are as nothing in their 
bearing upon the Union in comparison with the animus, the 
intent and purpose of which they are at once the fruit and the 
evidence. . . ." ^ Of this animus the election of Lincoln was 
regarded as the crowning proof; and it became, as is well 
known, the signal for secession. 

In December, 1860, the very month in which South Caro- 
lina chose to withdraw from the Union, the arrest of a 
runaway negro in Canada gave rise to an extradition case 
that became an additional cause of excitement. The negro 
was William Anderson, who in 1853 had been caught with- 
out a pass in Missouri, and had killed the man that tried to 
capture him. In 1860 he was recognized in Canada by a 
slave-catcher from Missouri, was arrested on the charge of 
murder, and thrown into jail at Toronto. As the Ashburton 
treaty contained an article providing for the extradition of 
slaves guilty of crimes committed in the United States, the 
American government sought to secure the surrender of 

1 Congressional Globe, Thirty-sixth Congress, Second Session, p. 356 ; see 
also ibid., Appendix, p. 197. 


Anderson for punishment. Lord Elgin, Governor-General 
of Canada at the time, was appealed to in the fugitive's be- 
half by Mrs. Laura S. Haviland. He made a spirited reply 
to the effect that " in case of a demand for William Ander- 
son, he should require the case to be tried in their British 
court ; and if twelve freeholders should testify that he had 
been a man of integrity since his arrival in their dominion, it 
should clear him." Nevertheless, the case was twice decided 
against the defendant, first by the common magistrate's 
court, then by the Court of Error and Appeal, to which it 
had been carried on a writ of habeas corpus. But this did 
not end the matter. Through the efforts of the fugitive's 
friends application was made for a writ of habeas corpus to 
the English Court of the Queen's Bench, and the writ was 
granted. Anderson was defended by Gerrit Smith, whose 
eloquent speech produced a profound impression in Canada, 
and did not fail to attract considerable notice in all parts of 
the United States.^ 

During the month of December, in which the Anderson 
case came into prominence, the example of secession set by 
South Carolina was followed by five other cotton states. 
Meantime Congress was giving unmistakable evidence of the 
importance attaching to the fugitive slave question. In his 
message of December 4, President Buchanan gave serious 
consideration to this question, although he insisted that the 
Fugitive Slave Law had been duly enforced in every contested 
case during his administration.^ He recommended an " ex- 
planatory amendment " to the Constitution affording " recog- 
nition of the right of the master to have his slave who has 
escaped from one state to another restored and 'delivered 
up ' to him, and of the validity of the Fugitive Slave Law 
enacted for this purpose, together with a declaration that all 
State laws impairing or defeating this right, are violations of 

1 Accounts of Anderson's case will be found in a collection of pamphlets 
in the Boston Public Library ; in the Liberator, Dec. 3, 1860 and Jan. 22, 
1861 ; in A Woman's Life Work, by Laura S. Haviland, pp. 207, 208 ; in the 
Sistory of Canada, by J. M. McMuUen, Vol. II, p. 259 ; in the History of 
Canada, by John MacMullen, p. 553 ; and in Fugitive Slaves, by M. G. 
McDougall, pp. 25, 26. 

^ Journal of the Senate, Thirty-sixth Congress, Second Session, p. 10. 

2 A 


the Constitution, and are consequently null and void." ^ On 
December 12 not less than eleven resolutions were intro- 
duced into the House on this subject, and on December 13, 
18 and 24 other resolutions followed. Resolutions of a 
similar nature continued to be presented in both Houses 
during January and February of the succeeding year, ceasing 
only with the end of the session.^ 

These efforts on the part of the national legislature to 
appease the spirit of secession in the South were paralleled 
by efforts equally futile on the part of various Northern state 
legislatures during the same period. It was reported that 
towards the close of the year 1860 a caucus of governors of 
seven Republican states was held in New York City, and 
decided to recommend to their legislatures " the unconditional 
and early repeal of the personal liberty bills passed by their 
respective states." As a matter of fact this recommendation 
was made by the Republican governors of four states, Maine, 
Massachusetts, New York and Illinois, and the Democratic 
governors of Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Rhode Island 
repealed her personal liberty law in January, 1861 ; Massa- 
chusetts modified hers in March ; and was followed by Ver- 
mont, which took similar action in April. Ohio had repealed 
her act in 1858, but her legislature seized this opportunity to 
urge her sister states to cancel any of their statutes "conflict- 
ing with or rendering less efficient the Constitution or the 
laws." ^ The conciliation of the South was clearly the pur- 
pose of these measures, but action came too late, for confidence 
between the sections had already been destroyed. 

The fact that the border slave states, with the exception of 
Virginia, remained in the Union, must not be interpreted as 
indicating small losses of human property by these states. 
The strong ties existing between the states lying on either 
side of the sectional line, the presence of a rigorous Union 
sentiment in Kentucky, western Virginia and the slavehold- 
ing regions lying east and west of these, together with the hope 

1 Journal of the Senate, Thirty-sixth Congress, Second Session, p. 18. 

2 For a complete list of these resolutions see Mrs. McDougall's monograph 
on Fugitive Slaves, Appendix, pp. 117-119. 

' Rhodes, Eistory of the United, States, Vol. Ill, pp. 252, 253. 


of a new compromise entertained by these states, tended to 
keep them in their places in the Union. The prospect of a 
stampede of slaves, in case they should join the secession 
movement, was a consideration that may be supposed to have 
had some weight in fixing the decision of the border slave 
states. Certainly it was one to which Northern men attached 
considerable importance at the time in explaining the stead- 
fast position of these states ; and the impossibility of recover- 
ing even a single fugitive from the free states in case of a 
disruption of the Union along Mason and Dixon's line was a 
thing of which Southern members of the national House were 
duly reminded by their Northern colleagues. 

The retention of the loyalty of the border slave states was 
a matter of grave concern to President Lincoln, who sought 
first of all the preservation of the Union. In his inaugural 
address Lincoln had declared his purpose to see to it that the 
Fugitive Slave Law was executed, and when a few months 
later an opportunity presented itself he kept his promise. 
Congress also realized the need of caution on account of the 
border states, and moved slowly in framing general enact- 
ments. The changed conditions surrounding the slaves, due 
to the marshalling of forces for the War and the advance of 
Northern troops into the enemy's country, multiplied the 
chances for escape throughout the South, and removed the 
necessity for a long and perilous journey by the slaves to find 
friends. Negroes from the plantations of both loyal and dis- 
loyal masters flocked to the camps of Union soldiers, and 
could not be separated. Under such circumstances the need 
of uniformity of method in dealing with cases early became 
apparent. The "War had scarcely more than commenced when 
protests began to be made against the employment of Northern 
troops as slave-catchers. A letter read in the Senate by Mr. 
Sumner, in December, 1861, made inquiry, " Shall our sons, 
who are offering their lives for the preservation of our insti- 
tutions, be degraded to slave-catchers for any persons, loyal 
or disloyal? If such is the policy of the government, I shall 
urge my son to shed no more blood for its preservation." ^ 
Two German companies in one of the Massachusetts regi- 

1 Congressional &lobe, Thirty-seventh Congress, First Session, p. 30. 


ments also entered protest, making it a condition of their 
enlistment that they should not be required to perform such 
discreditable service. "They complained, and with them 
the German population generally throughout the country." ^ 
The inexpediency of the return of fugitives by the army was 
recognized by Congress in the early part of 1862, and a bill 
forbidding officers from restoring them under any considera- 
tion was signed by the President on May 14, 1862.2 

The various acts of Congress and the President relative 
to fugitive slaves down to the Proclamation of Emancipation, 
practically circumscribed the legal effect of the Fugitive Slave 
laws to the border states, for in the free states the laws had 
not been observed for a long time. It was not untU. June, 
1864, that these measures were swept from the statute-book 
of the nation, notwithstanding the insistence of Kentucky 
and the other loyal states of the South that a constitutional 
obligation rested upon the government to retain them. The 
repeal act did not remove this obligation. Such a result 
could come only with the extinction of slavery, and the last 
vestige of slavery did not disappear until the adoption of the 
Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. The 
Amendment provides: "Neither slavery nor involuntary 
servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the 
party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the 
United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction." 

The general significance of the long controversy in regard 
to fugitive slaves can best be understood by tracing the devel- 
opment as a sectional issue of the question at the bottom of 
it, namely, the obligation to restore fugitives to their masters. 
The creation of a line dividing the free North from the slave- 
holding South in the early years of our national history, and 
the enactment of the first Fugitive Slave Law, by which the 
general government assumed a certain responsibility for run- 
aways, led to the opening of the question. From that time 

1 Congressional Globe, Thirty-seventh Congress, Tirst Session, p. 30 ; see 
also M. G. MoDougaU's Ftigitive Slaves, p. 79. 

" House Journal, Thirty-seventh Congress, Second Session, p. 265 ; Senate 
Journal, Thirty-seventh Congress, Second Session, p. 285 ; Congressional 
Globe, Thirty-seventh Congress, Second Session, p. 1243. 


on, the steadily increasing number of escapes, together with 
the spread of the underground system, which made these 
escapes almost uniformly successful, kept the question open. 
Operations along the secret lines constantly caused aggrava- 
tion in the South ; and the pursuit of passengers, mobs and 
violence were results widely witnessed in the North. The 
other questions between the sections were subject to com- 
promise, but party action could not control the workings of 
the Underground Railroad. The stirring sights and affecting 
stories with which the North became acquainted through the 
stealthy migration of slaves were well adapted to make 
abolitionists rapidly, and the consequence was more aggrava- 
tion on both sides. The practice of midnight emancipation 
in Northern states during the early years was accompanied, 
not unnaturally, with the formulation and statement of the 
principle of immediatism in neighborhoods where under- 
ground methods were familiar. Thus the way was prepared 
for Garrison and his talented coworkers, whose eloquent 
tongues and pens could no more be controlled by pro-slavery 
forces than could the Underground Railroad itself. Agitation 
reacted upon the Road and increased its activity ; this caused 
counter agitation by Southerners in and out of Congress 
until a more rigorous Fugitive Slave Law was secured. 

The Compromise of 1850 failed to reconcile the sections : 
Northern men despised the Fugitive Slave Law, and displayed 
greater zeal than ever before in aiding runaway slaves. Thus, 
in the later stages of the controversy, as from its beginning, the 
fugitive was a successful missionary in the cause of freedom. 
Personal liberty laws were passed by the free states to 
defend him; Uncle Tom's Cabin was written to portray 
to the world his aspirations for liberty and his endeavors to 
secure it ; John Brown devised a " subterranean pass way " to 
assist him, as a part of the great scheme of liberation that 
failed at Harper's Ferry. One of the chief reasons for with- 
drawing from the Union assigned by the seceding states was 
the bad faith of the North in refusing to surrender fugitives. 
At the outbreak of the Civil War large numbers of slaves 
sought refuge with the Union forces, the government soon 
found it impracticable to restore them, and disavowed all re- 


sponsibility for tliem in 1862. By the Proclamation of Eman- 
cipation slavery was abolished within the area of the disloyal 
states, and the controversy became merely formal, the loyal 
slave states striving to maintain an abstract right based by 
them upon the Constitution. In 1864, however, they were 
forced to yield, and the fugitive slave legislation was repealed. 
The year following witnesse^the cancellation of the fugitive 
slave clause in the Constitution by the amendment of that 
instrument. In view of all this it is safe to say that the 
Underground Railroad was one of the greatest forces which 
brought on the Civil War, and thus destroyed slavery. 



Fugitive Clause in Northwest Ordinance ol 1787. [Chapter n, p. 20.] 

1787, July 13. Art. VI. " There shall be neither slavery nor in- 
voluntary servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than in the punish- 
ment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; 
provided, always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom 
labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, 
such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person 
claiming his or her labor or service aforesaid." Read first time, July 11, 
1787. Passed July 13, 1787. —Journals of Congress, XU, 84, 92. 

Fugitive Clause in the Constitution. [Chapter II, p. 20.] 

1787, Sept. 13. Art. TV, § 2. " No person held to service or labor 
in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in 
consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such 
service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to 
whom such service or labor may be due." — Revised Statutes of the 
United States, 1, 18. 

First Fugitive Slave Act. [Chapter II, p. 21.] 

1793, Feb. 12. An Act respecting fugitives from justice and persons 
escaping from the service of their masters. 

" Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives 
of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That whenever the 
executive authority of any state in the Union, or of either of the terri- 
tories northwest or south of the river Ohio, shall demand any person 
as a fugitive from justice, of the executive authority of any such state 
or territory to which such person shall have fled, and shall moreover 
produce the copy of an indictment found, or an affidavit made before 
a magistrate of any state or territory as aforesaid, charging the person 



so demanded, with having committed treason, felony or other crime, 
certified as authentic by the governor or chief magistrate of the state or 
territory from whence the person so charged fled, it shall be the duty of 
the executive authority of the state or territory to which such person 
shall have fled, to cause him or her to be arrested and secured, and 
notice of the arrest to be given to the executive authority making such 
demand, or to the agent of such authority appointed to receive the 
fugitive, and to cause the fugitive to be delivered to such agent when 
he shall appear : But if no such agent shall appear within six months 
from the time of the arrest, the prisoner may be discharged. And all 
costs or expenses incurred in the apprehending, securing, and transmit- 
ting such fugitive to the state or territory making such demand, shall be 
paid by such state or territory. 

" Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That any agent, appointed as afore- 
said, who shall receive the fugitive into his custody, .shall be empowered 
to transport him or her to the state or territory from which he or she 
shall have fled. And if any person or persons shall by force set at 
liberty, or rescue the fugitive from such agent whUe transporting, as 
aforesaid, the person or persons so ofiending shall, on conviction, be fined 
not exceeding five hundred dollars, and be imprisoned not exceeding 
one year. 

" Sec 3. And be it also enacted, That when a person held to labour in 
any of the United States, or in either of the territories on the northwest 
or south of the river Ohio, under the laws thereof, shall escape into any 
other of the said states or territory, the person to whom sucK labour or 
service may be due, his agent or attorney, is hereby empowered to seize 
or arrest such fugitive from labour, and to take him or her before any 
judge of the circuit or district courts of the United States, residing or 
being within the state, or before any magistrate of a county, city or town 
corporate, wherein such seizure or arrest shall be made, and upon proof 
to the satisfaction of such judge or magistrate, either by oral testimony 
or affidavit taken before and certified by a magistrate of any such state or 
territory, that the person so seized or arrested, doth, under the laws of the 
state or territory from which he or she fled, owe service or labour to the 
person claiming him or her, it shall be the duty of such judge or magis- 
trate to give a certificate thereof to such claimant', his agent or attorney, 
which shall be sufficient warrant for removing the said fugitive from 
labour, to the state or territory from which he or she fled. 

" Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That any person who shall knowingly 
and willingly obstruct or hinder such claimant, his agent or attorney, in 
so seizing or arresting such fugitive from labour, or shall rescue such 
fugitive from such claimant, his agent or attorney, when so arrested pur- 
suant to the authority herein given or declared ; or shall harbour or con- 


ceal such person after notice that he or she was a fugitive from labour, as 
aforesaid, shall, for either of the said offences, forfeit and pay the sum of 
five hundred dollars. Which penalty may be recovered by and for the 
benefit of such claimant, by action of debt, in any court proper to try the 
same ; saving moreover to the person claiming such labour or service, his 
right of action for or on account of the said injuries or either of them." — 
Statutes at Large, I, 302-305. 

Fugitive Slave Clause in the Missouri Compromise. 
[Chapter X, p. 298.] 

1820, March 19. The Missouri Compromise provided " that any per- 
sons escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed 
in any State or Territory of the United States, such fugitive may be law- 
fully reclaimed, and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor, or 
service, as aforesaid." — Annals of Congress, 16 Cong. 1 Sess., 1469, 1587. 

Second Fugitive Slave Act. [Chapter II, p. 22.] 

1850, Sept. 18. "An Act to amend, and supplementary to, the Act en- 
titled 'An Act respecting Fugitives from Justice, and Persons escaping 
from the Service of their Masters,' approved February twelfth, one thou- 
sand seven hundred and ninety-three. 

" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled. That the persons who have been, 
or may hereafter be, appointed commissioners, in virtue of any act of 
Congress, by the Circuit Courts of the United States, and who, in conse- 
quence of such appointment, are authorized to exercise the powers that 
any justice of the peace, or other magistrate of any of the United States, 
may exercise in respect to offenders for any crime or offence against the 
United States, by arresting, imprisoning, or bailing the same imder and 
by virtue of the thirty-third section of the act of the twenty-fourth of 
September, seventeen hundred and eighty-nine, entitled 'An Act to 
establish the judicial courts of the United States,' shall be, and are 
hereby, authorized and required to exercise and discharge all the powers 
and duties conferred by this act. 

"Sec. 2. And be it further enacted. That the Superior Court of each 
organized Territory of the United States shall have the same power to 
appoint commissioners to take acknowledgments of bail and affidavits, 
and to take depositions of witnesses in civil causes, which is now pos- 
sessed by the Circuit Court of the United States ; and all commissioners 
who shall hereafter be appointed for such purposes by the Superior Court 
of any organized Territory of the United States, shall possess all the 
powers, and exercise all the duties, conferred by law upon the commis- 


sioners appointed by the Circuit Courts of the United States for similar 
purposes, and shall moreover exercise and discharge all the powers and 
duties conferred by this act. 

" Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the Circuit Courts of the 
United States, and the Superior Courts of each organized Territory of the 
United States, shall from time to time enlarge the number of commission- 
ers, with a view to afford reasonable facilities to reclaim fugitives from 
labor, and to the prompt discharge of the duties imposed by this act. 

" Skc. 4. And be it further enacted, That the commissioners above 
named shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the judges of the Circuit 
and District Courts of the United States, in their respective circuits and 
districts within the several States, and the judges of the Superior Courts 
of the Territories, severally and collectively, in term-time and vacation ; 
and shall grant certificates to such claimants, upon satisfactory proof 
being made, with authority to take and remove such fugitives from ser- 
vice or labor, under the restrictions herein contained, to the State or Ter- 
ritory from which such persons may have escaped or fled. 

" Skc. 5. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of all mar- 
shals and deputy marshals to obey and execute all warrants and precepts 
issued under the provisions of this act, when to them directed ; and should 
any marshal or deputy marshal refuse to receive such warrant, or other 
process, when tendered, or to use all proper means diligently to execute 
the same, he shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in the sum of one thou- 
sand dollars, to the use of such claimant, on the motion of such claimant 
by the Circuit or District Court for the district of such marshal ; and 
after arrest of such fugitive, by such marshal or his deputy, or whilst at 
any time in his custody under the provisions of this act, should such 
fugitive escape, whether with or without the assent of such marshal or 
his deputy, such marshal shall be liable, on his ofiicial bond, to be prose- 
cuted for the benefit of such claimant, for the full value of the service or 
labor of said fugitive in the State, Territory, or District whence he 
escaped : and the better to enable the said commissioners, when thus 
appointed, to execute their duties faithfully and efficiently, in conformity 
with the requirements of the Constitution of the United States and of 
this act, they are hereby authorized and empowered, within their coun- 
ties respectively, to appoint, in writing under their hands, any one or 
more suitable persons, from time to time, to execute all such warrants 
and other process as may be issued by them in the lawful performance 
of their respective duties ; with authority to such commissioners, or the 
persons to be appointed by them, to execute process as aforesaid, to sum- 
mon and call to their aid the bystanders, or posse comitatus of the proper 
county, when necessary to insure a faithful observance of the clause of 
the Constitution referred to, in conformity with the provisions of this act ; 


and all good citizens are hereby commanded to aid and assist in the 
prompt and eflficient execution of this law, whenever their services may 
be required, as aforesaid, for that purpose ; and said warrants shall run, 
and be executed by said oflBcers, anywhere in the State within which 
they are issued. 

" Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That when a person held to service 
or labor in any State or Territory of the United States, has heretofore 
or shall hereafter escape into another State or Territory of the United 
States, the person or persons to whom such service or labor may be due, 
or his, her, or their agent or attorney, duly authorized, by power of attor- 
ney, in writing, acknowledged and certified under the seal of some legal 
oflScer or court of the State or Territory in which the same may be 
executed, may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, either by procur- 
ing a warrant from some one of the courts, judges, or commissioners 
aforesaid, of the proper circuit, district, or county, for the apprehension of 
such fugitive from service or labor, or by seizing and arresting such fugi- 
tive, where the same can be done without process, and by taking, or 
causing such person to be taken, forthwith before such com-t, judge, or 
commissioner, whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case of 
such claimant in a summary manner ; and upon satisfactory proof being 
made, by deposition or affidavit, in writing, to be taken and certified 
by such court, judge, or commissioner, or by other satisfactory testimony, 
duly taken and certified by some court, magistrate, justice of the peace, 
or other legal officer authorized to administer an oath and take deposi- 
tions under the laws of the State or Territory from which such person 
owing service or labor may have escaped, with a certificate of such magis- 
tracy or other authority, as aforesaid, with the seal of the proper court 
or officer thereto attached, which seal shall be sufficient to establish the 
competency of the proof, and with proof, also by affidavit, of the identity 
of the person whose service or labor is claimed to be due as aforesaid, 
that the person so arrested does in fact owe service or labor to the per- 
son or persons claiming him or her, in the State or Territory from which 
such fugitive may have escaped as aforesaid, and that said person escaped, 
to make out and deliver to such claimant, his or her agent or attorney, 
a certificate setting forth the substantial facts as to the service or labor 
due from such fugitive to the claimant, and of his or her escape from the 
State or Territory in which such service or labor was due, to the State 
or Territory in which he or she was arrested, with authority to such 
claimant, or his or her agent or attorney, to use such reasonable force and 
restraint as may be necessary, under the circumstances of the case, to take 
and remove such fugitive person back to the State or Territory whence 
he or she may have escaped as aforesaid. In no trial or hearing under 
this act shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evi- 


dence ; and the certificates in this and the first [fourth] section mentioned, 
shall be conclusive of the right of the person or persons in whose favor 
granted, to remove such fugitive to the State or Territory from which he 
escaped, and shall prevent all molestation of such person or persons by 
any process issued by any court, judge, magistrate, or other person whom- 

"Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That any person who shall know- 
ingly and willingly obstruct, hinder, or prevent such claimant, his agent 
or attorney, or any person or persons lawfully assisting him, her, or them, 
from arresting such a fugitive from service or labor, either with or with- 
out process as aforesaid, or shall rescue, or attempt to rescue, such 
fugitive from service or labor, from the custody of such claimant, his 
or her agent or attorney, or other person or persons lawfully assisting as 
aforesaid, when so arrested, pursuant to the authority herein given and 
declared ; or shall aid, abet, or assist such person so owing service or 
labor as aforesaid, directly or indirectly, to escape from such claimant, 
his agent or attorney, or other person or persons legally authorized as 
aforesaid ; or shall harbor or conceal such fugitive, so as to prevent the 
discovery and arrest of such person, after notice or knowledge of the 
fact that such person was a fugitive from service or labor as aforesaid, 
shall, for either of said offences, be subject to a fine not exceeding one 
thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding six months, by indict- 
ment and conviction before the District Court of the United States for 
the district in which such offence may have been committed, or before 
the proper court of criminal jurisdiction, if committed within any one 
of the organized Territories of the United States; and shall moreover 
forfeit and pay, by way of civil damages to the party injured by such 
illegal conduct, the sum of one thousand dollars, for each fugitive so lost 
as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt, in any of the District or 
Territorial Courts aforesaid, within whose jurisdiction the said offence 
may have been committed. 

" Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That the marshals, their deputies, 
and the clerks of the said District and Territorial Courts, shall be paid, 
for their services, the like fees as may be allowed to them for similar 
services in other cases ; and where such services are rendered exclusively 
in the arrest, custody, and delivery of the fugitive to the claimant, his 
or her agent or attorney, or where such supposed fugitive may be dis- 
charged out of custody for the want of sufficient proof as aforesaid, then 
such fees are to be paid in the whole by such claimant, his agent or 
attorney ; and in all cases where the proceedings are before a commis- 
sioner, he shall be entitled to a fee of ten dollars in full for his services 
in each case, upon the delivery of the said certificate to the claimant, his 
or her agent or attorney ; or a fee of five dollars in cases where the proof 


shall not, in the opinion of such commissioner, warrant such certificate 
and delivery, inclusive of all services incident to such arrest and examinar 
tion, to be paid, in either case, by the claimant, his or her agent or attor- 
ney. The person or persons authorized to execute the process to be 
issued by such commissioners for the arrest and detention of fugitives 
from service or labor as aforesaid, shall also be entitled to a fee of five 
dollars each for each person he or they may arrest and take before any 
such commissioner as aforesaid, at the instance and request of such 
claimant, with such other fees as may be deemed reasonable by such 
commissioner for such other additional services as may be necessarily 
performed by him or them ; such as attending at the examination, keep- 
ing the fugitive in custody, and providing him with food and lodging 
during his detention, and until the final determination of such commis- 
sioner; and, in general, for performing such other duties as may be 
required by such claimant, his or her attorney or agent, or commissioner 
in the premises, such fees to be made up ia conformity with the fees 
usually charged by the officers of the courts of justice within the proper 
district or county, as near as may be practicable, and paid by such claim- 
ants, their agencs or attorneys, whether such supposed fugitives from 
service or labor be ordered to be delivered to such claimants by the final 
determination of such commissioners or not. 

"Sec. 9. And he it further enacted, That, upon affidavit made by the 
claimant of such fugitive, his agent or attorney, after such certificate 
has been issued, that he has reason to apprehend that such fugitive will 
be rescued by force from his or their possession before he can be taken 
beyond the limits of the State in which the arrest is made, it shall be 
the duty of the officer making the arrest to retain such fugitive in his 
custody, and to remove him to the State whence he fled, and there to 
deliver him to said claimant, his agent, or attorney. And to this end, 
the officer aforesaid is hereby authorized and required to employ so 
many persons as he may deem necessary to overcome such force, and to 
retain them in his service so long as circumstances may require. The 
said officer and his assistants, while so employed, to receive the same 
compensation, and to be allowed the same expenses, as are now allowed 
by law for transportation of criminals, to be certified by the judge of the 
district within which the arrest is made, and paid out of the treasury of 
the United States. 

"Sec. 10. And he it further enacted, That when any person held to 
service or labor in any State or Territory, or in the District of Columbia, 
shall escape therefrom, the party to whom such service or labor shall 
be due, his, her, or their agent or attorney, may apply to any court of 
record therein, or judge thereof in vacation, and make satisfactory proof 
to such court, or judge in vacation, of the escape aforesaid, and that the 


person escaping owed service or labor to such party. Whereupon the 
court shall cause a record to be made of the matters so proved, and also 
a general description of the person so escaping, with such convenient 
certainty as may be ; and a transcript of such record, authenticated by 
the attestation of the clerk and of the seal of the said court, being pro- 
duced in any other State, Territory, or district in which the person so 
escaping may be found, and being exhibited to any judge, commissioner, 
or other officer authorized by the law of the United States to cause per- 
sons escaping from service or labor to be delivered up, shall be held and 
taken to be full and conclusive evidence of the fact of escape, and that 
the service or labor of the person escaping is due to the party in such 
record mentioned. And upon the production by the said party of other 
and further evidence if necessary, either oral or by affidavit, in addition 
to what is contained in the said record of the identity of the person 
escaping, he or she shall be delivered up to the claimant. And the said 
court, commissioner, judge, or other person authorized by this act to 
grant certificates to claimants of fugitives, shall, upon the production of 
the record and other evidences aforesaid, grant to such claimant a certifi- 
cate of his right to take any such person identified and proved to be 
owing service or labor as aforesaid, which certificate shall authorize such 
claimant to seize or arrest and transport such person to the State or Ter- 
ritory from which he escaped : Provided, That nothing herein contained 
shall be construed as requiring the production of a transcript of such 
record as evidence as aforesaid. But in its absence the claim shall be 
heard and determined upon other satisfactory proofs, competent in law. 
"Approved, September 18, 1850." — Statutes at Large, IX, 462-465. 



The following list is not intended to be exhaustive: it by no means 
includes all the cases illustrative of the work of the Underground 
Road, but it represents fairly well the various phases of that work, 
and does not intentionally omit any of the famous cases. Less than 
one half of the list here given wiU be found in Mrs. McDougaU's 
Fugitive Slaves, Appendix D, pp. 124-128. 

1. Early escape to Canada. 

1748. Negro servant escapes from the English to Canada : New York 
Colonial Manuscripts, X, 209. 

2. Case of ship Friendship. 

1770. Harbored a slave : Moore, Slavery in Massachusetts, 117. 

3. Somersett case. 

1772. England refuses to return a fugitive slave : Moore, Slavery in 
Massachusetts, 117 ; Cobb, Historical Sketch of Slavery, 163 ; GoodeU, 
Slavery and Anti-Slavery, 44-52; Hurd, Law of Freedom and Bondage, 
I, 189-193 ; Broom, Constitutional Law, 6-119 ; Howells, State Trials, 
XX, 1 ; TasweU-Langmead, English Constitutional History, 300, n. 

4. Dalby's fugitive. 

1786. Aided by Quakers in Philadelphia: Sparks, Washington, IX, 
158; Applegarth, Quakers of Pennsylvania, 46S. 

5. Slave escaped from Drayton. 

1786. Difficult to apprehend because, as Washington declared, there 
were "numbers who would rather facilitate the escape of slaves than 
apprehend them when runaways." Lund, Origin of the Late War, I, 20. 

6. First recorded case of rescue. (Quincy's case.) 

1793. Alleged fugitive rescued from the court-room in Boston : Edw. 
C. Learned, Speech on the New Fugitive Slave Law, Chicago, Oct. 25, 1850; 
Whittier, Prose Works, 11, 129, "A Chapter of History"; GoodeU, Slavery 
and Anti-Slavery, 232; Boston Atlas, Oct. 15, 1850; McDougall, Fugitive 
Slaves, 35. 

7. Washington's fugitive. 

1796, October. Public sentiment in Poi-tsmonth, New Hampshire, 
prevents the return of a fugitive slave to President Washington : Maga- 



zine of American History, December, 1877, p. 759; Charles Sumner, 
Works, III, 177 ; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 35. 

8. Columbia case. 

1804. General Boude defends a runaway : Smedley, Underground Rail- 
road, 26. 

9. Case of Wright vs. Deacon. 

1819. Trial before Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to determine status 
of an alleged runaway : 5 Sergeant and Kawle's Reports, 63. 

10. Case of HiU vs. Low. 

1822. Action brought in Circuit Court of the United States for the 
Eastern District of Pennsylvania for penalty under the law of 1793 for 
obstructing arrest of a fugitive : 4 "Washington's Circuit Court Re- 
ports, 327. 

11. Case of Commonwealth vs. Griffith. 

1823. Prosecution in Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts of a 
slave-catcher for seizing without a warrant a runaway in New Bedford : 
2 Pickering's Reports, 15. 

12. Escape of Tice Davids. 

1831. Mysterious disappearance of a slave at Ripley, Ohio, leads to the 
naming of the Underground Railroad : Rush R. Sloane, Firelands Pioneer, 
July, 1888, p. 35. 

13. Dayton (Ohio) case. 

1832. January. Rendition of the fugitive, Thomas Mitchell, at Dayton, 
Ohio, followed by the suicide of the negro, at Cincinnati, when on 
his way back to slavery : Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio, II, 554, 

14. Case of Johnson vs. Tompkins. 

1833. Prosecution of a claimant for seizure and removal of his escaped 
slave from Pennsylvania to New Jersey ; followed by counter prosecution 
of the abolitionists before Circuit Court of the United States : 1 Bald- 
win's Circuit Court Reports, 571 ; 13 Federal Cases, 840. 

15. Case of Jack vs. Martin. 

1835. Action under New York law for recovery of a fugitive from 
New Orleans : 12 Wendell's Reports, 811. 

16. Basil Dorsey case. 

1836. Trial and rescue of Dorsey in Bucks County, Pennsylvania: 
Smedley, Underground Railroad, 356-361; E. H. Magill, "When Men 
were Sold. The Underground Railroad in Bucks County," in The Bucks 
County Intelligencer, Feb. 3, 1898. 

17. Matilda case. 

1837. March. Rescue of a slave at Cincinnati, Ohio, on her way from 
Virginia to Missouri with her master. Later she was found in the 
employ of James G. Birney, who was tried for harboring the fugitive, 


while Matilda was remanded to her master : Schuckers, Life and Public 
Services of S. P. Chase, 41-44 ; Warden, Private Life and Public Services 
ofS. P. Chase, 282-284; 8 Ohio Reports. 

18. Schooner Boston case. (Georgia and Maine controversy.) 

1837. Controversy between Georgia and Maine over a stowaway on 
the schooner Boston, who escaped through Maine to Canada: Wilson, 
Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, I, 473; Niles's Register, UH, 71, 72, 
LV, 356 ; Senate Journal, 1839^0, pp. 235-237 ; Senate Doc, 26 Cong, 
1 Sess., Vol. V, Doc. 273 ; McDongaU, Fugitive Slaves, 41. 

19. Case of Peter, alias Lewis Martin. 

1837. Fugitive adjudged to his claimant by Circuit Court for the 
Southern District of New York: 2 Paine's Reports, 350; 16 Federal 
Cases, 881. 

20. Philadelphia case. 

1838. Attempted rescue of a captured fugitive by a crowd of colored 
people : Liberator, March 16, 1838. 

21. Marion (Ohio) case. 

1838. Rescue of a fugitive at Marion, Ohio, from the hands of his 
claimant, who sought to detain him after the decision of the coiirt in the 
slave's favor : Aaron Benedict, The Sentinel, Mt. Gilead, Ohio, July 13, 

22. Escape of Douglass. 

1838. Escape of Frederick Douglass from Baltimore to New York : 
Life and Times of Douglass ; Williams, Negro Race in America, U, 59, 
422; Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, I, 501, 502. 

23. Isaac Gansey case. (Virginia and New York controversy.) 

1839. Controversy between Virginia and New York over extradition of 
three negroes demanded by Virginia for aiding a slave to escape : U. S. 
Gazette, " Case of Isaac," Judge Hopkinson's Speech ; Wilson, Rise and 
Fall of the Slave Power, I, 474 ; Seward, Works, II, 449-518 ; Von Hoist, 
Constitutional History, U, 538-540 : Senate Documents, 27 Cong., 2 Sess., 
Vol. n. Doc. 96 ; McDougaU, Fugitive Slaves, 41. 

24. Granville (Ohio) rescue case. 

1841. Discharge of fugitive, John, after a hearing obtained through a 
writ of habeas corpus ; followed by the departure of the negro over an 
underground route : Bushnell, History of Granville, Licking County, Ohio, 
307, 308. 

25. Burr, Work and Thompson case. 

1841. Prosecution for aiding fugitive slaves in western Illinois : Wil- 
son, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 71 ; Goodell, Slavery and Anti- 
Slavery, 440 ; Thompson, Prison Life and Reflections ; Asbury, History of 
Quincy, Illinois, 74. 

26. Van Zandt case. (Jones vs. Van Zandt.) 



1842-1847. Prosecution for aiding runaways in southwestern Ohio: 
5 Howard's Reports, 215; Letter of N. L. Van Sandt, Clarinda, Iowa; 
WUson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 1, 475, 476 ; Cobb, Historical 
Sketches of Slavery, 207; 2 McLean's Reports, 612; Schuckers, ii/e and 
Public Services of S. P. Chase, 53-66 ; Warden, Private Life and Public 
Services of S. P. Chase, 296. 

27. Prigg case. (Prigg vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.) 
1842. Prosecution for causing arrest and removal of a runaway con- 
trary to provisions of a state law. Decision of the Supreme Court of the 
United States frees state officers from taking part in fugitive slave cases : 
16 Peters' Reports, 539 ; Report of Case of Edward Prigg, Supreme Court, 
Pennsylvania ; Cobb, Historical Sketch of Slavery ; Bledsoe, Liberty and 
Slavery, 355 ; Clarke, Anti-Slavery Days, 69 ; Hurd, Law of Freedom and 
Bondage' II, 456-492 ; Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 1, 472, 
473 ; Von Hoist, Constitutional History, HI, 310-312. 

28. Latimer case. 

1842. Famous fugitive slave case in Boston. Fugitive released by 
purchase : Liberator, Oct. 25, Nov. 11, Nov. 25, 1842, Feb. 3, 7, 17, 1843, 
and Aug. 16, 1844; Law Reporter, Latimer Case, March, 1843; Eleventh 
Annual Report of Mass. Anti-Slavery Society; Mass. House Journal, 1843, 
pp. 72, 158; Mass. Senate Journal, 1843, p. 232; Wilson, Rise and Fall of 
the Slave Power, I, 477 ; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 39, 40. 

29. Milton Clark rescue case. 

1842. September. Kelease of the fugitive, captured in Lake County, 
Ohio, by writ of habeas corpus in Ashtabula County, Ohio, followed by 
his disappearance by way of the Underground Railroad: Geneva (Ohio) 
Times, Sept. 14, 1892. 

30. Sells case. 

1842-1852. Prosecution for harboring a slave in Adams County, 
Illinois : 5 Illinois Reports, 498 ; 14 Howard's Reports, 18. 

31. Case of Charles T. Torrey. 

1843. Prosecution for attempt to abduct slaves from Virginia: Wil- 
son, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 80. 

32. Case of Delia A. Webster. 

1844. Prosecution for attempt to abduct slaves from Kentucky : Rev. 
Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times ; Chicago Tribune, Jan. 29, 1893. 

33. Case of Calvin Fairbank. 

1844. Prosecution for attempt to abduct slaves from Kentucky : Rev. 
Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times ; Chicago Tribune, Jan. 29, 1893. 

34. Marysville (Ohio) rendition case. 

1844, September 10. Rendition of two fugitives captured on the Scioto 
River, near Marysville, Union County, Ohio : Marysville Tribune, May 
17, 1893 ; Letter of Mahlon PickreU, Zanesfield, Ohio, March 25, 1893. 


35. Walker case. 

1844. Prosecution for attempt to abduct slaves from Florida : Trial 
and Imprisonment of Jonathan Walker, Liberator, Aug. 16, 31, Sept. 6, 
13, Oct. 18, 25 and Dec. 27, 1844, Aug. 8, 15, and July 18, 1845; Wilson, 
Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 83; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 42. 

36. Case of State vs. Hoppess. (Watson case.) 

1845. Action before the Supreme Court of Ohio on the circuit to 
secure the liberation of a recaptured slave : 2 Western Law Journal, 
279 ; Schuckers, Life and Public Services of S. P. Chase, 74-77 ; Warden, 
Private Life and Public Services of S. P. Chase, 309. 

37. Case of Vaughan vs. Williams. 

1845. Prosecution before the Circuit Court of the United States for the 
District of Indiana for rescuing fugitive slaves : 3 Western Law Journal, 
65; 8 Law Reporter, 375; 28 Federal Cases, 1115; 3 McLean's Reports, 

38. Parish case. (Jane Garrison case.) 

1845-1849. Prosecution of F. D. Parish for aiding fugitives at San- 
dusky, Ohio : Firelands Pioneer, July, 1888 ; Warden, Private Life and 
Public Services of S. P. Chase, 310 ; A. E. Lee, History of Columbus, Ohio, 

39. Toledo (Ohio) rescue case. 

1847, February. Rescue of a fugitive from custody while his captor 
was being tried on a charge of assault and battery before a justice of 
the peace : Conversation with James M. Ashley, Toledo, Ohio, July, 1895, 
and with Mavor Brigham, Toledo, Ohio, Aug. 4, 1895. 

40. Crosswhite rescue case. (Case of Giltner vs. Gorham.) 

1847. Prosecution for obstructing arrest of fugitives at Marshall, 
Michigan : Pamphlet proposing a " Defensive League of Freedom," by 
E. G. Loring, and others, pp. 5, 6 ; 4 McLean's Reports, 402. 

41. Eaufiman case. 

1848. Prosecution of Daniel Kauffman, of Cumberland County, Penn- 
sylvania, for aiding fugitives: E. G. Loring and others. Pamphlet 
proposing a " Defensive League of Freedom," pp. 5, 6. 

42. Garrett case. 

1848. Prosecution of Thomas Garrett, of Wilmington, Delaware, for 
aiding fugitive slaves : Still, Underground Railroad Records, 623-641 ; 
Smedley, Underground Railroad, 237-245 ; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 60 ; 
Wyman, New England Magazine, March, 1896. 

43. Case of Drayton and Sayres. (Case of the schooner Pearl.) 
1848, April 18. Prosecution for attempting abduction of slaves from 

Washington, D.C.: Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton; Wilson, Rise 
and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 104; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 42. 

44. Ohio and Kentucky controversy. 


1848. Controversy on account of extradition of fifteen persons, charged 
•with aiding fugitives, demanded by Kentucky : Liberator, July li, 1848. 

45. Craft escape. 

1848. Escape of William and Ellen Craft: Liberator, Nov. 1, 1850; 
Still, Underground Railroad, SeS; Claxke, Anti-Slavery Days, 8S ; Wilson, 
Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 325 ; New England Magazine, Janu- 
ary, 1890 ; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 59. 

46. Case of Richard Dillingham. 

1848, December. Prosecution for attempting to abduct slaves from 
Nashville, Tennessee : Benedict, Memoir of Richard Dillingham ; Stowe, 
Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, 58, 59 ; Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, 713- 
718 ; Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio, II, 590. 

47. Clarksburgh (Indiana) case. (Case of Kay vs. Donnell and Ham- 

1849, May. Prosecution for aiding fugitive slave : 4 McLean's Reports, 

48. Case of Norris vs. Newton and others. 

1849, September. Fugitives captured in Cass County, Michigan, dis- 
charged on trial at South Bend, Indiana, prosecution of those who 
interfered following : 5 McLean's Reports, 92. 

49. First case under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. (Hamlet " kid- 
napping " case.) 

1850, September 26. Rendition of James Hamlet, a free negro, living 
in New York City : Fugitive Slave Bill, its History and Unconstitutionality, 
with an Account of the Seizure of James Hamlet, 3 ; Wilson, Rise and Fall 
of the Slave Power, II, 304 ; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 43, 44. 

50. Chaplin case. 

1850. Prosecution of WiUiam L. Chaplin for attempting to abduct 
slaves of Robert Toombs and Alexander H. Stephens from Washington, 
D.C. : Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 80-82 ; Case of 
William R. Chaplin, etc. (Boston, 1851), p. 54. 

51. Sims case. 

1851. Rendition in Boston : Liberator, April 17 and 18 ; Daily Morn- 
ing Chronicle, April 26, 1851 ; Twentieth Annual Report of Mass. Anti- 
Slavery Society, 1855, p. 19 ; Trial of Sims, Arguments by R. Rantoul, Jr., 
and C. G. Loring; C. F. Adams, Life of Richard Henry Dana, 1, 185- 
801 ; 7 Cushing's Reports, 287 ; Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 
II, 333 ; New England Magazine, June, 1890 ; McDougall, Fugitive 
Slaves, 44. 

52. Shadrach case. 

1851, February. Rescue in Boston : Liberator, Feb. 21, May 30, 1851 ; 
Boston Traveller, Feb. 15, 1851 ; Boston Courier, Feb. 17, 1851 ; Washing- 
ton National Era, Feb. 27, 1851 ; Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 2 Sess., Appendix, 


238, 295, 510 ; May, Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims, 10 ; Wilson, Rise 
and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 329 ; Von Hoist, III, 21 ; Statesman's Man- 
ual, ni, 1919 ; New England Magazine, May, 1890 ; McDougall, Fugitive 
Slaves, 47, 48 ; Rhodes, History of the United States, I, 209, 210, 290. 

53. Christiana case. 

1851, September. Riot in Christiana, Pennsylvania, caused by attempt 
to arrest and remove fugitives, followed by trial on the charge of treason 
of the persons alleged to have prevented the arrest : 2 Wallace Jr.'s 
Eeports,159 ; 9 Legal Intelligencer, 22; 4 American Law Journal, n. s., 458; 
9 Western Law Journal, 103 ; 26 Federal Cases, 105 ; Still, Underground 
Railroad, 348-368; "Parker's account," "The Freedman's Story," T. W. 
Higginson, Atlantic Monthly, Feb. and March, 1866 ; U. S. vs. Hanway, 
Treason, 247 ; May, Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims, 14 ; History of the 
Trial of Castner Hanway and others for Treason ; N. Y. Tribune, Sept. 12, 
1851, and Nov. 26 to Dec. 12; Boston Daily Traveller, Sept. 12, 1851; 
National Anti-Slavery Standard, Sept. 18, 1851 ; Lowell Journal, Sept. 19, 
1851 ; Smedley, Underground Railroad, 107-130 ; Wilson, Rise and Fall of 
the Slave Power, II, 328, 329 ; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 50, 51 ; Rhodes, 
History of the United States, I, 222-224. 

54. Jerry rescue. 

' 1851, October. Rescue of Jerry McHenry in Syracuse, New York : 
Liberator, Oct. 10-17, 1851 ; S. J. May, Recollections of the Anti-Slavery 
Conflict, 349-364; Life of Gerrit Smith, 117; Trial of H. W. Allen, 3; 
Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 305, 306 ; E. W. Seward, 
Seward at Washington as Senator and Secretary of State, I, 169, 170; 
McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 44, 47-51. 

55. Parker rescue. 

1851, December 31. Rescue by Mr. Miller : Wilson, Rise and Fall of 
the Slave Power, II, 324; May, Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims, 15; 
Liberator, 1853, Feb. 4; Lunsford Lane, 113. 

56. Brig Florence rescue. 

1853. Rescue of a slave on board by Capt. Austin Bearse: Bearse, 
Reminiscences of Fugitive Slave-Law Days in Boston, 84. 

57. Case of Oliver vs. Weakley and others. 

1853. Prosecution before the United States Circuit Court for the West- 
ern District of Pennsylvania in October term for harboring fugitives : 2 
Wallace Jr.'s Reports, 324. 

58. Louis case. 

1853, October. Escape of the fugitive, Louis, from the court-room while 
on trial in Cincinnati : Liberator, Oct. 28, 1853 ; Reminiscences of Levi 
Coffin, 548-554. 

59. Bellefontaine (Ohio) rescue case. 

1852, November. Discharge of the Piatt slaves from custody by the 


probate judge of Logan County, followed by their escape over the Un- 
derground Railroad : Logan County Gazette, November, 1852 ; Letter of 
the Hon. Robert T. Kennedy, Bellefontaine, Jan. 22, 1893 ; Conversation 
■with Judge Wm. H. West, BeUefontaine, Aug. 11, 1894; Letter of R. H. 
Johnston, Belle Centre, Ohio, Sept. 22, 1894. 

60. Case of Miller vs. McQuerry. 

1853, August. Rendition of a fugitive, for several years a resident 
near Troy, Ohio, by the Circuit Court of the United States at Cincin- 
nati, Ohio : 5 McLean's Reports, 481 ; 10 Western Law Journal, 528 ; 17 
Federal Cases, 335; May, The Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims, 28; 
History of Darke County, Ohio, 324, 825. 

61. Mitchell's case. 

1853. Prosecution of Mitchell, an abolitionist of Indiana, Pennsylvania, 
for harboring slaves : 2 Wallace Jr.'s Reports, 313 ; Pittsburgh Dispatch, 
Feb. 13, 1898. 

62. Glover rescue case. (Case of Ableman vs. Booth.) 

1854, March 10. Rescue of Joshua Glover by a mob at Milwaukee; 
followed by the prosecution of Sherman M. Booth, one of the rescuers, 
and a conflict between the Supreme Court of Wisconsin and the Supreme 
Court of the United States : Liberator, April 7, 24, 1854 ; Wilson, Rise 
and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 444 ; Mason, The Fugitive Slave Law in 
Wisconsin with Reference to Nullification Sentiment, 1895 ; C. C. Olin, A 
Complete Record of the John Olin Family, 1893 ; Byron Paine and A. D. 
Smith, Unconstitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act. Argument of A. D. 
Smith, Milwaukee, 1854. Wisconsin Supreme Court, Unconstitutionality 
of the Fugitive Slave Act, Decision in case of Booth and Ry craft. 

63. Burns case. 

1854, May 24. Rendition of Anthony Burns in Boston : Liberator, May, 
June, 1854, Aug. 22, 1861 ; Kidnapping of Burns, Scrapbook collected 
by Theodore Parker; Personal Statement of Mr. Elbridge Sprague, N. 
Abington; Accounts in Boston Journal, May 27, 29, 1854; Daily Adver- 
tiser, May 26, 29, June 7, 8, July 17 ; Traveller, May 27, 29, June 2, 3, 6, 
10, July 15, 18, Oct. 3, Nov. 29, Dec. 5, 7, 1854, April 3, 4, 10, 11, 1855 ; 
Evening Gazette, May 27, 1854 ; Worcester Spy, May 31 ; Argument of 
Mr. R. H. Dana ; May, Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims, 256 ; Stevens, 
History of Anthony Burns; New York Tribune, May 26, 1854; Clarke, 
Anti-Slavery Days, 87; Greeley, American Conflict, I, 218; Wilson, Rise 
and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 435 ; Von Hoist, VI, 62 ; Garrisons' Gar- 
rison, II, 201, HI, 409; C. F. Adams, Dana, 1, 262-330; Rhodes, His- 
tory of the United States, I, 500-506 ; T. W. Higginson, Atlantic Monthly, 
March, 1897, 349-354; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 45; LilUe B. C. 
Wyman, New England Magazine, July, 1890. 

64. Sloane case. 


1854. Prosecution of Rush R. Sloane before the District Court of the 
United States at Columbus, Ohio, for dismissing fugitives from the cus- 
tody of their captors at Sandusky, Ohio : 5 McLean's United States Re- 
ports, 64 ; Rush R. Sloane and H. F. Paden, Firelands Pioneer, 47-49, 21- 

65. Rosetta case. 

1855, March. Release of the slave girl, Rosetta, by writ of habeas cor- 
pus from the possession of her master, who brought her voluntarily to 
Columbus, Ohio ; followed some time later by the seizure and removal 
of the girl, and the pursuit of her captors to Cincinnati, where they were 
compelled by legal process to give her up: Warden, Private Life and 
Public Services of S. P. Chase, 344, 345 ; A. E. Lee, History of Columbus, 
Ohio, I, 602, 603. 

66. Erican case. 

1855, May 28. Unsuccessful attempt at Columbus, Ohio, to persuade 
two slave girls to leave their master, P. Erican, a Frenchman from Xew 
Orleans, en route with his family to Europe: Lee, History of Columbus, 
Ohio, 603. 

67. Margaret Garner case. 

1856, January. Rendition of Margaret Garner at Cincinnati, Ohio, after 
she had killed one of her children to prevent its return to bondage : Libera- 
tor, Feb. 8, 22, 29, 1856; May, Fugitive Slave Lav; and its Victims, 37; Luns- 
ford Lane, 119; Greeley, American Conflict, I, 219; Lalor's Cyclopaedia, 
I, 207; Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 11, 446, 447; James 
Monroe, Oberlin Thursday Lectures, Addresses and Essays, 116; Schuckers, 
Life and Public Services of S. P. Chase, 171-176 ; Warden, Private Life 
and Public Services of S. P. Chase, 346-350. 

68. Williamson case. 

1856, January. Prosecution for aiding fugitives : Narrative of the Facts 
in the Case of Passmore Williamson, Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society ; 
Annual Report of the American Anti-Slavery Society, New York, May 7, 
1856, p. 24 ; May, Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims, 9, 34 ; Wilson, Rise 
and Fall of the Slave Power, II, 448. 

69. Johnson rescue case. 

1856, July 16. Rescue of slave on ship from Mobile : Liberator, July 18, 

70. GatcheU case. 

1857, January. Rendition of PhiUp Young; Chambers, Slavery and 
Color; Fugitive Slave Law, Appendix, 197. 

71. Addison White case. 

1857, May 15. Prosecution of Udney Hyde and others for aiding the 
fugitive, Addison White, at Mechaniesburg, Champaign County, Ohio : 
Beer, History of Clark County, Ohio; Howe, Historical Collections of 


Ohio, I, 384^386 ; Schuckers, Life and Public Services of S. P. Chase, 
177-182 ; Warden, Private Life and Public Services of S. P. Chase, 350, 

72. Oberlin- Wellington rescue case. 

1858, September 13. Rescue of the boy, John, at Wellington, Ohio, fol- 
lowed by the prosecution of two rescuers, and the indictment of four of 
the slave-catchers: Shipherd, History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue; 
Liberator, Jan. 28, April 29, May 6, June 3, 10, 1859; Cleveland (Ohio) 
Plain Dealer, July 6, 1859 ; Lunsford Lane, 179 ; Anglo-African Maga- 
zine (Oberlin- Wellington Rescue), 209 ; May, Fugitive Slave Law and its 
Victims, 108 ; New Englander, XVII, 686. 

73. Nuckolls case. 

1858, December. Prosecution of Nuckolls of Nebraska City, Nebraska, 
for injuring a person who remonstrated against his search for fugitives: 
Rev. John Todd, Tabor (Iowa) Beacon, 1890-91, Chapter XXI, of a 
series of articles entitled " The Early Settlement and Growth of Western 

74. John Brown's raid. 

1858, December 20. Abduction of twelve slaves from Missouri, who 
were conducted directly through to Canada : Sanborn, Life and Letters of 
John Brown, 480-483; Redpath, Public Life of Capt. John Brown, 219- 
221; Hiaton, John Brown and His Men, 30-32, 221, 222; Von Hoist, 
John Brown, 104; I. B. Richman, John Brown among the Quakers, and 
Other Sketches, 46-48; Life of Frederick Douglass, 1881, 280, 281, 318, 
319 ; McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 51, 52. 

75. Charles NaUe case. (Troy, New York, rescue case.) 

1859, April 28. Troy Whig, April 28, 1859; Bradford, Harriet, the 
Moses of Her People, 143-149 ; History of the County of Albany, N. Y., 
from 1609-1886, p. 765; Liberator, May 4, 1860. 

76. Jim Gray case. 

1859, October 20. Dismissal of fugitive from arrest by decision of 
State Supreme Court at Ottawa, Illinois, followed by the rescue of the 
slave from the custody of the United States marshal, and the prosecution 
of several of the rescuers : Ottawa (111.) Republican, Nov. 9, 1891 ; Pontiac 
(111.) Sentinel, 1891-92; Speech of John Hossack, convicted of violation 
of the Fugitive Slave Law, before Judge Drummond of the United States 
District Court, Chicago, 111. (New York, 1860.) 

77. Sheldon and Woodford case. 

1860, March. Prosecution of Edward Sheldon and Newton Woodford, 
of Tabor, Iowa, for aiding fugitives ; Rev. John Todd, Tabor (Iowa) 
Beacon, 1890-91, Chapter XXI, of series of articles on " The Early Set- 
tlement and Growth of Western Iowa." 

78. Anderson case. 


1860. Extradition case between United States and Canada: Pamphlets 
on Anderson Case, Boston Public Library; Life of Gerrit Smith, 15; Lib- 
erator, Deo. 3, 1860, Jan. 22, 1861 ; British Documents, Parliament of Great 
Britain, " Correspondence Respecting Case of Fugitive Slave, Anderson," 
London, 1861. 

79. Cleveland (Ohio) rendition case. 

1861. Rendition of the fugitive slave, Lucy, in Cleveland, Ohio, to her 
master, Wm. S. Goshorn, of Wheeling, West "Virginia: Cleveland Herald, 
date unknown. 

80. Iberia (Ohio) whipping case. 

1861, November. Prosecution of the Rev. George Gordon, Piincipal of 
Iberia College, for " resisting process " in the hands of a United States 
deputy marshal, who was endeavoring to capture a fugitive slave on the 
night of Sept. 20, 1860. The deputy and his assistants were caught, 
disarmed, taken to the woods and whipped. Principal Gordon witnessed 
without protest the last ten or fifteen lashes, and for so doing was 
sentenced to six months' confinement in the county jail, to pay a fine of 
$300, and the costs of prosecution — $1000 or $1500 more : Rev. George 
Gordon in the Principia, Nov. 29, 1861. 

81. John Dean case. 

1862, June. Prosecution of John Dean, a prominent lawyer of Wash- 
ington, D.C., for protecting his client, an alleged fugitive just released, 
from a second arrest : Noah Brooks, Washington in Lincoln's Time, 197, 



Table A 


OP 1850 

Census of 1860 



Eatio of 
tives to 







Eatio of 
tives to 



Alabama .... 









Arkansas . 









Delaware . 









Florida . . 









Georgia . 









Kentucky . 









Louisiana . 









Maryland . 


















Missouri . 

- 87,422 








North Carolina 









South Carolina 









Tennessee . . 









Texas . . . 









Virginia . . 




















Table B 

Showing that the Percentage op Decline op the Slave Population 

FKOM 1850-1860 WAS Greater in the Northernmost Counties of 

the Border Slave States than in these States as a Whole 







T3 ® d 

-d 2 fl 

•o fl 

03 to 

S a 








Bordering on 


3 c'l? 



the States 

g -"S 

ic„ a 

p to 




J= o"^^ 





"S « -^ 5 

O C X O 

'f K £ 5 


Q O-ea 






Kentucky . . 

m., O., Ind, 







Virginia . . . 

Pa., O. . . . 







Missouri . . . 

la., Ill 







Maryland . . 










Table C 

Showing the Percentage op Decline of the Slave Population in the 
"Pan Handle " Counties op Virginia prom 1850-1860 







. § 


Pa. and 0. 








Katio between 
White and 


Eatio between 
White and 


Per Cent 
of Decline ol 
Slave Ponulati 
in 10 Years 











Brooke . 









Ohio . . 


















Wetzel . 








For all tht 










1. Unpublished Reminiscences 

The materials upon which in large measure this book is based are 
reminiscences gathered by correspondence and conversation with more 
than a thousand persons, many of whom were old-time abolitionists, while 
the remainder included the famUies and intimate friends of abolitionists, 
and a number of fugitive slaves. It was discovered by the author after 
only a short search for published sources that little was to be gleaned in 
the libraries and that information sufficient in amount for an extended 
study could be obtained only by what geologists and botanists call field- 
work. The collection of materials went on as time could be spared for 
this purpose until a great mass of letters and notes had been brought 
together, and then the work of sorting, arranging and classifying began. 
The reminiscences were grouped by states and counties, so as to bring 
out as far as possible the coincident and confirmatory character of 
evidence relating to the same neighborhood or district ; and the value of 
the materials appeared in the tracings of underground lines the author 
was able to make, county by county and state by state, throughout the 
region of the free states from Iowa to Maine. For the purpose of show- 
ing the extent and importance of the underground movement these 
unpublished reminiscences have proved to be invaluable. 

2. Printed Collections of Undekground Railroad Incidents 

There are a few volumes that supply us with numerous illustrations of 
the Underground RaUroad in operation. These books are not general 
treatises on the underground system, but give us an insight into the 
clandestine work of several limited localities ; they are important because 
they exhibit the methods and devices of operators, show the sacrifices 
made by them in behalf of the midnight seekers after liberty, and 
supplement with valuable matter the unpublished reminiscences. In 

( addition to the well-known books of StOl, Smedley and Coffin, the author 
has found the three smaller, and hitherto unquoted books by W. M. 

i Mitchell, E. M. Pettit and H. U. Johnson, to be useful. 



3. Personal Kecollections 

A few of those who were active in aiding slaves to escape to Canada 
have published volumes of personal recollections, in which, among other 
things, they tell more or less about their connection with the humane 
but illegitimate work of the abolitionists, and give vivid sketches of 
some of their associates, as well as of some of their dark-skinned 
proteges. Such books are the Rev. James Freeman Clarke's Anti-Slavery 
Days, the Rev. Samuel J. May's Recollections of our Anti-Slavery Conflict, 
J. B. Grinnell's Men and Events of Forty Years, Mrs. Laura S. Haviland's 
A Woman's Life Work and Mrs. E. B. Chace's Anti-Slavery Reminiscences. 

A small class of books, of which the Personal Memoirs of Daniel 
Drayton, and the books by Dr. A. M. Ross and the Rev. Calvin Fairbank 
are representatives, are indispensable as sources of information relating 
to the abduction of slaves from the South. The little book entitled 
Harriet, the Moses of her People, in which that remarkable guide of 
fugitives, Harriet Tubman, relates her exploits through the pen of her 
friend, Mrs. S. H. Bradford, properly belongs to this group. 

4. Letters, Diaries and Scrap-books 

The liability of Underground Railroad operators to severe penalties 
for harboring runaways explains the dearth of evidence in the form of 
letters, diaries and scrap-books they have left behind ; such evidence 
would have been incriminating. It is known that a few abolitionists 
kept diaries and scrap-books and even wrote letters in regard to the 
business of the Road, but most of these records appear to have been 
destroyed before the beginning of the Civil War. The author has been 
able to secure only two or three letters and the single leaf of a diary in 
centres where much work was done. Three scrap-books in the Boston 
Public Library, containing memoranda, clippings, handbills, etc., that 
refer in particular to the experiences of Theodore Parker, shed much 
light on the work of the Vigilance Committee of Boston, and supply 
important information in regard to the famous case of Anthony Burns. 

5. Biographies and Memoirs 

Biographies and memoirs of anti-slavery men not infrequently contain 
references to aid rendered to fugitives, explain the motives of the philan- 
thropists, and give their versions of the fugitive slave cases that came 
within their immediate knowledge; such books are often indices of 
the public sentiment of the localities in which their subjects lived, 
and when read in conjunction with the biographies of pro-slavery advo- 


cates help us to realize the conflicting interests that expressed themselves 
in the slavery controversy. Lydia Maria Child's Life of Isaac T. Hopper 
has preserved to us the record of one of the pioneers of the underground 
, movement, while the biographies of Gerrit Smith and James and Lucrelia 
Molt, show these persons to have been worthy successors of the benign 
and shrewd Hopper. In the biographies of John Brown by Redpath, 
Hinton and Sanborn, and in the Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, by her 
son, Charles E. Stowe, we have proofs of the deep and enduring impres- 
sion made by underground experiences upon strong characters capable 
of assimilating and transforming these into forces of historical moment. 
Chase, Seward and Sumner were among our public men who acted as 
counsel for fugitive slaves; it is not surprising therefore that their 
biographers have given considerable space to the consideration of cases 
with which these men were connected. The prominence of the states- 
men just named and others of their class as party leaders makes their 
biographies indispensable in tracing the political history of the ante- 
bellum period. Claiborne's Life and Correspondence of John A. Quitman 
may properly be named as an excellent and valuable example of the 
class of biographies of prominent men of the South. 

A few obituary pamphlets have befen gathered, which have proved to 
be of some service : such are A. L. Benedict's Memoir of Richard Dilling- 
ham, and pamphlets relating to Mr. John Hossack, of Ottawa, Illinois, 
and Mr. James M. Westwater, of Columbus, Ohio. 

6. Slave Biographies and Autobiogkaphies 

A recital of the life and sufferings of many colored refugees in books 
written by themselves or by sympathetic friends, and published in 
various free states during the two or three decades preceding 1860, 
tended to increase the Northern feeling against slavery and doubtless 
also to carry to many minds convictions that found a partial expression 
in underground efforts. These books contain descriptions of slave life 
on the plantation and tell with the omission of particulars, which it 
would have been imprudent at the time to relate, the story of the escape 
to liberty. The omission of these particulars renders these sources of 
little use in tracing the secret routes to Canada followed by the refugees, 
or in confirming, in part or in whole, the routes of others. In the case 
of Frederick Douglass, the gaps and omissions appearing in the first 
autobiography are filled with much valuable information in the second, 
written after slavery was abolished. The books by Josiah Henson, the 
Rev. J. W. Loguen and Austin Steward are interesting as the narratives 
of negroes of superior ability who spent a part at least of their time 
after self-emancipation in Canada, and could therefore write intelli- 
gently on the condition of their people there. 


7. Materials relating to Slavery and Fugitive Slaves in 


There is but little material in regard to slavery and fugitive slaves in 
Canada. The question of slavery in the provinces is clearly presented 
in a few pages of Vol. XXV of the Magazine of American History, while 
the life of the colored refugees in Canada during the period of immigrar 
tion and settlement can only be seen in anything like a sufficient light in 
Benjamin Drew's North-Side View of Slavery, and Dr. S. G. Howe's 
Refugees from Slavery in Canada West. 

8. State, County and Local Histories 

Many contributions on the Underground Railroad appear in the col- 
lections of historical, biographical and other materials that make up a 
large number of our state, county and local histories so-called. Accounts, 
which when taken by themselves are fragmentary and therefore of little 
importance, have been brought to light by searching through these 
histories; and not unnaturally, perhaps, the largest number have been 
found in the county histories of Ohio. Six or seven of these histories 
aft'ord articles relating to the Underground Railroad ; and characteristic 
items and incidents have been printed in both state and local histories 
besides. Illinois comes next in the number of contributions preserved 
in its local histories. The utmost diligence of the student in the library 
alcoves devoted to Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Naw, York, 
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, will result in the finding of from one to 
three contributions only, as the case may be ; while from the shelves 
given to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Jersey, he is not 
likely to secure anything to his purpose. 

9. Reports op Societies 

The reports of anti-slavery societies, especially those of Massachusetts 
and Pennsylvania, are rich in comments upon the prosecutions in the 
South of abductors of slaves, and do not fail to show the effect of the 
Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 upon the activity of Underground Railroad 
lines. They also tell something of the missionary work done among the 
refugees in Canada. In the last-named respect they are secondary to the 
Reports of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, the Refugees' Home Society, 
and the Canada Mission. 

Within the past ten years various societies of the historical type have 
been instrumental, directly or indirectly, in the publication of addresses 
bearing upon the violation of the Fugitive Slave laws. A series of lect- 


ures before the Political Science Association of the University of Michi- 
gan, several of which involve this theme, were published in 1889 under 
the general title. Constitutional History of the United States as seen in the 
Development of American Law. A collection of letters and addresses com- 
memorative of the anti-slavery movement and some of its leaders was 
printed in 1893 in a book, called Old Anti-Slavery Days, by the Dan- 
vers (Mass.) Historical Society. An address on "The Underground 
Kailroad" by ex-President James H. FairchUd, of Oberlin College, forms 
Tract No. 87 in Vol. IV. of the publications of the Western Reserve 
Historical Society. The best account of the Glover rescue case will be 
found in a pamphlet by Mr. Vroman Mason on the Fugitive Slave Law 
in Wisconsin, with Reference to Nullification Sentiment, issued in 1895 by 
the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

10. Kecoeds op Trials 

The reader who acquaints himself even superficially with John Cod- 
man Hurd's two volumes, entitled the Law of Freedom and Bondage in 
the United States, can not fail to be impressed with the value of legal 
reports for the study of the great contention over slavery. Hurd's pages 
are full of descriptions and discussions of cases in their judicial bearing, 
and his foot-notes are largely made up of references to the published 
reports of trials. 

In the series of these records of trials, one may trace the history of 
legal opposition to the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave laws, note the 
decision in the Prigg case, by which the efficiency of the law of 1793 was 
destroyed, and the Southern demand for a new law made imperative, 
mark the clash of state and federal jurisdictions, and see the growth of 
the spirit of nullification in the North. For these purposes, one should 
consult not only the records of the Supreme Court and the lower courts, 
such as Federal Cases, Howard's Reports, McLean's Reports, Ohio State 
Reports, Wisconsin Reports, etc., but also the various law periodicals, for 
example, the American Law Register, the Legal Intelligencer, and the 
Western Law Journal. Some important cases have been published in 
pamphlet form, while two at least are more minutely set forth in books ; 
a volume is devoted to the Oberlin- Wellington rescue case, and several 
relate to the trial of Anthony Burns. 

11. Periodicals and Newspapers 

In marked contrast with the legal reports and law periodicals, little can 
be gleaned from the popular magazines of fugitive slave days. The 
ethics of resistance to the laws for the recovery of runaways is dis- 


cussed in the North American Review for July, 1850, and in the Demo- 
cratic Review, "Vol. V, 1851, and incidents typical of the experience of the 
underground operator and his confederates are recited in Once a Week 
for June, 1862. Careful and extended search has revealed nothing in 
the better known periodicals published during the War and the two 
decades following. Recently, however, abolitionists have become retro- 
spective and reminiscent, and the tales of their midnight adventures in 
contravention of those laws of their country which they deemed subver- 
sive of the "higher law" begin to appear in periodicals and newspapers. 
For example, the first of a series of stories, which are founded upon facts, 
was printed in the Lake Shore and Home Magazine for July, 1887, an arti- 
cle on the Underground Railroad appeared in the Magazine of Western 
History for March, 1887, and a "symposium" of reminiscences was pub- 
lished in the Firelands Pioneer for July, 1888. Articles of a miscel- 
laneous nature, in which points of interest are brought out, have been 
appearing in some of the monthly magazines within more recent years, 
for instance, in the Atlantic Monthly, the Century Magazine, and the New 
England Magazine. 

Only vague and rare references to the Underground Railroad and 
its workings are made in the newspapers of ante-bellum days, and these 
are of little value. The Liberator was fierce in its opposition to the Fugi- 
tive Slave Laws, and contains many stories of fugitives, but in this, as in 
less radical newspapers, the editor observed a discreet silence concerning 
the secret efforts of his colaborers in emancipating the bondman. It is 
necessary, therefore, to rely upon the long delayed accounts contributed 
by operators now advanced in years to the columns of the press. In 
1885, interesting articles were printed in the Western Star, of Indiana, 
and the New Lexington (Ohio) Tribune, and since then, especially since 
1890, many others have been published. These have been patiently 
gathered, and form a part of the author's collections. 

12. Histories of Religious Societies 

Materials relative to the attitude of various religious denominations 
towards slavery are to be found in the histories of the different church 
organizations, such as William Hodgson's The Society of Friends in the 
Nineteenth Century, Dr. H. N. McTyeire's History of Methodism, and Dr. 
R. E. Thompson's History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States. 

Other works, for example A. C. Applegarth's Quakers in Pennsylvania 
and S. B. Weeks' Southern Quakers and Slavery, which, while dealing 
with a single denomination, are not to be regarded as denominational 
histories in any strict sense, contain points of interest and value. 


13. Matekials Bearing on Legislation 

The study of our colonial legislation supplies ample proof that the 
harboring of the hunted slave early became a source of annoyance to 
slave-owners. Laws against this roisdemeanor, with curious penalties 
attached, are included in the collections of statutes of various colonies, 
for example, in the Laws and Ordinances of New Netherlands, the Mary- 
land Archives (Assembly Proceedings), the Acts of the Province of New 
York, the Province Laws of Pennsylvania, the Laws of Virginia, etc. 
These statutes have been made accessible through their publication in 
series of volumes, a good collection of which may be found in the State 
Library in Boston. Among the most important editions are Learning 
and Spicer's collection for New Jersey, Hening's series of Virginia Stat- 
utes at Large, Bacon's collection for Maryland, and Iredell's edition of 
South Carolina Statutes. 

The history of our national legislation respecting fugitive slaves may 
be traced in outline in the Journals of the Senate and House. For the 
voicing of the need of this legislation, which one would naturally expect 
to find in the speeches of members from the Southern states, one must 
turn to the Annals of Congress, covering the period from 1789 to 1824, 
the Congressional Debates, for the period from 1824 to 1837, and the Con- 
gressional Globe from 1833 to 1864. The provisions of the Fugitive Slave 
laws one may find, of course, in the Statutes at Large, and some of the 
effects of the law of 1850 may be studied in a pamphlet entitled The 
Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims, compiled by Samuel May, Jr., and 
first published in 1856. An enlarged edition of this pamphlet was issued 
in 1861. 

14. Contemporaneous and Modern Books on Slavery. 

Under this heading are brought for convenience several different 
classes of books on slavery. The first of these classes comprises the 
three small volumes, published during the interval from 1816 to 1826, 
in which immediate emancipation was advocated by the Rev. George 
Bourne, the Rev. James Duncan, and the Rev. John Rankin. Our inter- 
est here in the teaching of these men arises primarily from the circum- 
stance that two of them, at least, are known to have done what they 
could to advance the work of the Underground Railroad, while all of 
them lived, at the time of the appearance of their books, on or near the 
border line over which came the trembling fugitive in search of freedom. 

Another class is made up of volumes descriptive of slavery. Such are 
Mrs. Frances A. Kemble's Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Planta- 
tion in 1836-18S9, Frederick Law Olmsted's Cotton Kingdom, G. M. Wes- 


ton's Progress of Slavery in the United States, and a book that has but 
recently come from the press, Edward Ingle's Southern Sidelights. 

In a third class must be grouped such recent monographs as Mrs. 
Marion G. McDougall's Fugitive Slaves, and Miss Mary Tremaine's Sla- 
very in the District of Columbia. The former has been found to be espe- 
cially serviceable, not only because of its subject matter, but also because 
of its numerous and accurate references and its long list of notable fugi- 
tive slave cases. 

15. Secondary Works 

One will seek in vain in the secondary works for an adequate account 
of the Underground Railroad, or a proper estimate of its importance, 
whether one looks in the general histories of the United States, such as 
the works of Von Hoist, Schouler, and Rhodes, the more condensed 
books of which we have an example in Prof. J. W. Burgess's The Middle 
Period, or the histories of slavery, like Wilson's Rise and Fall of the Slave 
Powei- in America, Greeley's American Conflict, Williams' History of the 
Negro Race, and WUley's History of the Anti-Slavery Cause in State and 
Nation. These works are important for their discussions from different 
points of view of the political forces and constitutional questions involved 
in the struggle for emancipation, and in general they present descriptions 
of the famous contested fugitive slave cases and cases of rescue, but they 
have failed, on account of the small amount of evidence hitherto avail- 
able, to arrive at a proper view of the political significance of the under- 
ground system. 

16. Libraries 

While the great mass of evidence that has made this volume possible 
was collected by field work, the author did not neglect to search libraries, 
both public and private, in the prosecution of his undertaking. He was 
able to make use of the public libraries of Cincinnati, besides the private 
library of Major E. C. Dawes of that city, the state library, and the 
library of Ohio State University at Columbus, the library of CM. 
Burton, Esq., of Detroit, Michigan, and during two years' residence in 
Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was able to avail himself of the splendid 
collections of anti-slavery books and pamphlets to be found in the 
Boston Public Library and the library of Harvard University. The 
materials for the chapter on "Prosecutions of Underground Railroad 
Men " were gathered in the Harvard Law Library. 



Levi Coffin. Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of 
the Underground Raikoad; being a Brief History of the Labors of a 
Lifetime in Behalf of the Slave, vyith the Stories of Numerous Fugi- 
tives, who gained their Freedom through his Instrumentality; and Many 
Other Incidents. Second Edition. Cincinnati, 1880. 

AscoTT K. Hope (a nom de plume for Robert Hope Moncrieff). 
Heroes in Homespun, 1894. 

H. U. Johnson. From Dixie to Canada. Romances and Realities of 
the Underground Railroad. (Reprinted from the Lake Shore and Home 
Magazine.) Vol. I. Orwell, Ohio, 1894. 

Rev. W. M. Mitchell. The Underground Railroad. London, 1860. 

Eber M. Pettit. Sketches in the History of the Underground Rail- 
road; comprising Many Thrilling Incidents of the Escape of Fugitives 
from Slavery, and the Perils of those who aided them. Fredonia, N. Y., 

R. C. Smedley. History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and 
the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania. Lancaster, Pa., 1883. 

William Still. Underground Railroad Records. Revised Edition. 
With a Life of the Author. Narrating the Hardships, Hairbreadth 
Escapes, and Death Struggles of the Slaves in their Efforts for Freedom. 
Together with Sketches of Some of the Eminent Friends of Freedom, 
and Most Liberal Aiders and Advisers of the Road. Hartford, Conn., 


Austin Bearse. Remembrances of Fugitive Slave Days in Boston. 
Boston, 1880. (Pamphlet.) 

Henry Thomas Butterworth. Reminiscences and Memories of 
Henry Thomas Butterworth and Nancy Irwin Wales, His Wife, with 
Some Account of their Golden Wedding. Nov. 3, 1880. Lebanon, Ohio, 
1886. (Pamphlet.) 

Elizabeth Buffum Chace. Anti-Slavery Reminiscences. Central 
FaUs., R.I., 1891. (Pamphlet.) 

James Freeman Clarke. Anti-Slavery Days. A Sketch of the Strug- 
gle which ended in the Abolition of Slavery in the United States. New 
York, 1883. 

Daniel Drayton. Personal Memoirs, etc., including a Narrative of 
the Voyage and Capture of the Schooner Pearl. Published by the Amer- 
ican and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Boston and New York, 1855. 


The Rev. Calvin Fairbank. During Slavery Times. How he 
"Fought the Good Fight" to Prepare "the Way." Edited from his 
Manuscript. Chicago, 1890. 

JosiAH BusHKELL Grinnell. Men and Events of Forty Years. 
Autobiographical Reminiscences of an Active Career from 1850 to 
1890. Boston, 1891. 

Laura S. Haviland. A Woman's Life-work : Labors and Experi- 
ences of Laura S. Haviland. Fourth Edition. Chicago, 1889. 

Samuel J. May. Some Recollections of our Anti-Slavery Conflict. 
Boston, 1869. 

Joseph Morris. Reminiscences. Richland Township, Marion Co., 
Ohio. Date unknown. 

A. G. Riddle. Recollections of War Times. New York, 1873. 

George W. Julian. Political Recollections. 1840-1872. Chicago, 

Dr. Alexander Milton Ross. Recollections and Experiences of 
an Abolitionist. Second Edition. Toronto, 1876. 


Charles Francis Adams. Richard Henry Dana. A Biography. 
2 Vols. Vol. L Boston, 1890. 

George E. Baker, Editor. The Life of William H. Seward, with 
Selections from his Works. 3 Vols. New York, 1853, 1861, 1864. 

A. L. Benedict. Memoir of Richard DUlingham. Philadelphia, 1852. 

William Birnet. James G. Birney and his Times. The Genesis of 
the Republican Party, with Some Account of Abolition Movements in the 
South before 1828. New York, 1890. 

John Howard Brtant. Life and Poems. 1894. 

Lydia Maria Child. Isaac T. Hopper: A True Life. Twelfth 
Thousand. Boston, 1854. 

J. F. H. Claiborne. Life and Correspondence of John A. Quitman. 
2 Vols. New York, 1860. 

W. G. Deshler and Others. Memorial on the Death of James M. 
Westwater. Published by the Board of Trade, Columbus, Ohio, 1894. 

0. B. Frothingham. Life of Gerrit Smith. New York, 1878. 

Wendell Phillips Garrison and Francis Jackson Garrison. 
William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879: The Story of his Life, told by 
his Children. 4 Vols. 8vo. New York, 1885. 

Mrs. Anna D. Hallowbll. James and Lucretia Mott. Life and 
Letters. Boston, 1884. 


Key. D. Heagle. The Great Anti-Slavery Agitator, Hon. Owen Love- 
joy as a Gospel Minister, with a Collection of his Sayings in Congress. 
Princeton, 111., 1886. (Pamphlet.) 

Richard J. Hinton. John Brown and his Men, with Some Account 
of the Roads they traveled to reach Harper's Ferry. New York, 

In Memoriam. John Hossack. Deceased Nov. 8, 1891. (Reprinted 
from the Republican Times,) Ottawa, 111., 1892. (Pamphlet.) 

Oliver Johnson. William Lloyd Garrison and his Times. Boston, 

George W. Julian. Life of Joshua R. Giddings. Chicago, 1892. 
^ Memoir of Jervis Langdon, Elmira, N.Y. (Pamphlet.) 

J. C. Leggett. Oration. Ceremonies attendant upon the Unveiling of 
a Bronze Bust and Granite Monument of Rev. John Rankin. (Ripley, 
Ohio), 1892. (Pamphlet.) 

Thomas J. Mumford, Editor. Memoir of S. J. May. Boston, 1873. 

John G. Nicolay and John Hay. Abraham Lincoln. A History. 
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Florence and H. Cordelia Ray. Sketch of the Life of Rev. Charles 
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F. B. Sanborn. The Life and Letters of John Brown, Liberator of 
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. Dr. S. G. Howe, The Philanthropist. New York, 


J. W. Schuckers. The Life and Public Services of Salmon Portland 
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F. W. Seward. Seward at Washington, as Senator and Secretary of 
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W. I. BowDiTCH. The Rendition of Anthony Burns. Boston, 1850. 
^- Sarah H. Bradford. Harriet, The Moses of Her People. New 
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Boston Slave Riot and Trial of Anthony Burns. Boston, 1854. 

William W. Brown. Narrative of William W. Brown. A Fugitive 
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Frederick Douglass. My Bondage and My Freedom. Part I. — 
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. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by 

himself. His Early Life as a Slave, His Escape from Bondage, and His 
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George L. Ruffin, of Boston. Hartford, Conn., 1881. 

JosiAH Henson. Life of Josiah Henson, formerly a Slave, now an 
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. Story of His Own Life with an Introduction by Mrs. 

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j_ Rev. J. W. LoGUEN. As a Slave and as a Freeman. Syracuse, N.Y., 

Mrs. K. E. R. Pickard. The Kidnapped and Ransomed. Personal 
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Charles Stearns. Narrative of Henry Box Brown, who escaped 
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Charles Emery Stevens. Anthony Burns. A History. Boston. 

Austin Steward. Twenty-two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a 
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George Bryce. Short History of the Canadian People. London, 

John Charles Dent. The Last Forty Tears, Canada Since the 
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Benjamin Drew. A North-Side View of Slavery: The Refugee, or 
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J. C. Hamilton. Slavery in Canada. Magazine of American History, 
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Edward G. Mason. Early Chicago and Elinois. Chicago, 1890. 

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E. G. Rust. Calhoun County (Mich.) Business Directory. For 1869- 
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George Rogers Howell and Jonathan Tennt, Editors, assisted 
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Alexander Black. The Story of Ohio. Boston, 1888. 

Rev. Henry Bushnell. The History of Granville, Licking Co., Ohio. 
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James H. Fairchild. Oberlia — The Colony and the College. 
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Abchibald H. Gkimke. Anti-Slavery Boston. New England Maga- 
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Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Cheerful Yesterdays. Atlantic 
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G. W. E. Hill. Underground Railroad Adventures. The Midland 
Monthly Magazine, Des Moines, Iowa, 1895. 

John Hutchins. The Underground Railroad. Magazine of Western 
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H. U. Johnson. Romances and Realities of the Underground Rail- 
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LiDA Rose McCabe. The Oberlin-WeUington Rescue. Godey's 
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H. F. Paden. Underground Railroad Reminiscences. Firelands 
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. Light on the Underground Railroad, with Map. 

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Nina Moore Tiffant. Stories of the Fugitive Slaves. New Eng- 
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Charles Dudlet Warner. The Story of Uncle Tom's Cabin. 
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LiLLiE B. C. Wtman. Black and White [Margaret Garner]. New 
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Captain C. Woodruff. Some Experiences in Abolition Times. 
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Andover Old and New. Boston Evening Transcript, May 16, 1896. 

Phillp Atkinson. Anecdotes of Owen Lovejoy. New York Weekly 
Witness, Oct. 2, 1895. 

Aaron Benedict. The Underground Railroad. Sentinel, Mt. Gilead, 
Ohio, July 13, 20, 27, Aug. 3, 10, 1893. 

Robert W. Carroll. An Underground Railway. Cincinnati Times- 
Star, Aug. 19, 1890. 

The Cleveland Fugitive Slave Case. Cleveland Herald, 1861. 


Nathan Coggeshall. Reminiscences of the " Underground R. R." 
Leader, Marion, Ind., Feb. 15, 1896. 

Judge Joseph Cox. Early Cincinnati. Cincinnati Times-Star, Feb. 
6, 1891. 

Mary E. Crocker. The Fugitive Slave Law and its Workings. 
Fitchburg (Mass.) Daily Sentinel, Oct. 31, 1893. 

E. C. Dawes. Some Local History. Marietta (Ohio) Tri-Weekly 
Register, Aug. 30, 1890. 

Teresa Dean. White City Chips. Daily Inter-Ocean, Chicago, 1893. 

J. M. DoNNOHUE. The Underground Railroad. Banner Times, 
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Exploits of Calvin Fairbank. Illustrated Buffalo Express, Jan. 29, 

Fight for Freedom. Pittsburgh. Dispatch, Feb. 13, 1898. 

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W. B. Fyfpb. a History of Anti-Slavery Days and Afterwards. 
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William Lloyd Garrison. The Liberator. 

Marianna Gibbons. In Slavery Days. Lewiston Gazette, reprinted 
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Glorious Old Thief [Calvin Fairbank]. Chicago Tribune, Jan. 29, 

Thomas L. Gray. Underground Railroad. New Lexington (Ohio) 
Tribune, October, 1885, February 1886. 

Josiah Habtzell. And Milly and Martha were Free; a True 
Story of the Underground Railway of Later Slavery Days. Cleveland 
Leader, Feb. 16, 1896. 

Helped Many Slaves ; William Cratty talks of Underground Railroad 
Days. Chicago Evening Post, July 18, 1893. 

E. HuFTELEN. Local History ; The Underground Railroad of Forty 
Years Ago. Spirit of the Times, Batavia, Genesee County, N.Y., Feb. 8, 

■ The Underground Railroad. Some of its Early 

History, by a Le Roy Man. (Same as the preceding article.) Le Roy 
Gazette, Genesee County, N.Y., Feb. 26, 1896. 

M. E. H. A Reminiscence of Slave Times. Miami (Ohio) Union, 
April 10, 1895. 

William T. Kelley. Underground R. R. Reminiscences. Friends' 
Intelligencer and Journal, Fourth Month 2, 9, Fifth Month 28, 1898. 

John Kennedy. Local History. Batavia Times, Genesee County, 
N.Y., Feb. 15, 1896. 

George S. McDowell. Uncle Tom's Cabin ; Originals of Some of 


the Chaxacters in the Great Book. Cincinnati Commercial Gazette. Date 

Dr. Edward H. Magill. When Men Were Sold; the Under- 
ground Railroad in Bucks County. The Bucks County (Pa.) Intelligencer, 
Feb. 3, 1898. The same in Friends' Intelligencer and Journal, Second 
Month 19, 26, Third Month 5, 12, 1898. 

. Underground Railroad Additions. Friends' Intelli- 
gencer and Journal, Fourth Month 16, 1898. 

Charles Merrick. Reminiscences of the Jerry Rescue. Northern 
Christian Advocate, Not. 15, 1893. 

J. B. Naylor. a Spike From the Underground Railway. Ohio 
Farmer, Aug. 1, 8, 1895. Signed, S. Q. Lapius. 

David Newport. Fugitive Slaves. Friends' Intelligencer and Jour- 
nal, Sixth Month 11, 1898. 

Mrs. J. F. Nicholson. Memoirs of Long Ago. Western Star (Ind.), 
Dec. 10, 1885. 

An Old House with a Wonderful History. MarysviUe (Ohio), Tribune, 
May 17, 1893. 

Douglas P. Putnam. A Station on the Old Underground Railroad. 
Marietta (Ohio) Register, Oct. 25, 1894. 

Recollections of the " Underground Railroad " of Antebellum Days. 
Felicity (Ohio) Times, July 6, 1893. 

Reminiscences of Slavery. Marietta (Ohio) Daily Register, Jan. 12, 

Carlton Rice. Reminiscent. Oneida, Madison County, N.Y., May 
16, 20, 23, 1896. 

L. L. Rice. Lewis and Milton Clark. Geneva (Ohio) Times, Sept. 14, 

A. M. Ross. A Democratic Abolitionist. Somerset (Pa.) Standard, 
Jan. 31, 1896. 

The Semi-Centennial of the First Church. Galesburg (HI.) Republican 
Register, March 5, 1887. 

John Shearer. Old Uncle Joe Mayo. MarysviUe (Ohio) Tribune, 
April 27, 1881. 

Sketches of the Life of Carver Tomlinson; assisted in the Great 
"Underground Railroad." Lostant Reporter (La Salle Co., HI.), Aug. 
10, 1896. 

Slavery Days Recalled. Detroit Free Press, Jan. 24, 1893. 

In Slavei-y Days. New Castle (Ind.) Daily News, March 5, 1897. 

Slave Raid. Story of the Pearl Expedition. Interesting Episode of 
Antebellum Days. The Failure of the Affair. Some Very Exciting 
Scenes. From the Washington Post, reprinted in the Cincinnati En- 
quirer, Sept. 14, 1895. 


Giles B. Stebbins. Thomas Garrett. Detroit Post, 1871. 

Stories of Runaway Slaves. Detroit Sunday News-Trihune, Aug. 12, 

Stories of Runaway Slaves. From Detroit Sunday News-Tribune, re- 
printed in Louisville (Ky.) Sunday Morning Journal, Aug. 12, 1894. 

Story of Calvin Fairbank. Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, March 18, 

James Stout. A Bit of History ; the Rescue of the Slave, Jim Gray, 
in 1859. Poutiac Sentinel, Livingston Co., 111., 1890. 

Rev. John Todd. Reminiscences of the Early Settlement and Growth 
of Western Iowa. Tabor (Iowa) Beacon, 1890-1891. 

E. Hicks Trueblood. Reminiscences of the Underground Railroad. 
Republican Leader, Salem, Ind., Nov. 17, Dec. 1, 1893, Jan. 26, Feb. 2, 23, 
March 2, 16, 23, April 6, 27, 1894. 

John W. Tuttle and F. P. Ames. Reminiscences of Slavery. Mari- 
etta (Ohio) Register, 1893-1894. Four articles. 

Two Good Men. Sketch of the Lives of John B. Tolman and S. Sils- 
bee ; Reminiscences of the Underground Railroad. Lynn (Mass.) Daily 
Evening Rem, Dec. 19. Year unknown. 

The Underground Raiboad. Chicago Inter-Ocean Curiosity Shop, 1881, 

The Underground Railroad. From a History of Hancock County, 
dated 1880. La Harper, Hancock Co., lU., April 8, 1896. 

The Underground Railroad. Ohio State Journal, Nov. 14, 1894. 

James M. Westwater, Pioneer Merchant and Friend of the Oppressed. 
Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, Feb. 21, 1894. 

Where Harriet Beecher Stowe witnessed the Scenes depicted in her 
Uncle Tom's Cabin. Cincinnati Enquirer (Supplement), Nov. 3, 1895. 

Rupus R. Wilson. Exploits of Calvin Fairbank. Illustrated Buffalo 
Express, Jan. 29, 1893. 

Joel Wood. Noticed in the Martin's Ferry (Ohio) Evening Times, 
May 2, 1892. 


Acts and Laws of His Majestie's Colony of Connecticut, 239 (1730?). 

Maryland Archives, Assembly Proceedings, 147, May, 1666. 

Charters and Laws of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay, 
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New Jersey Laws, 82, May 30, 1668. 

Laws and Ordinances of New Netherlands, 32, Aug. 7, 1640 ; 32, April 
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Laws of New Netherlands, 344, April 9, 1658. 


Acts of Province of New York from 1691 to 1718 ; 58, 1702. 

Acts of Province of New York, 77, 1705 ; 218, 1715. 

Laws of North Carolina, 89, 1741 ; 371, 1779. 

Province Laws of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1725; Province Laws of 
Pennsylvania, 325 (1726?). 

Plymouth Colony Records, IX, 5, Aug. 29, 1643. (Fugitive Slave 
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Becords of Colony of Rhode Island, 177, Oct. 27, 1714. 

Hening, Laws of Virginia, I, 401, March, 1655-1656 ; II, 289, October, 
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Henry Wilson. History of the Antislavery Measures of the Thirty- 
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Rev. George Bourne. The Book and Slavery Irreconcilable. Phila- 
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